Consultation on the future of the University's language department will be launched on Thursday
By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco
University senior managers sparred with irate students Monday evening at AUSA's AGM.
UoA's Senior Vice Principal Karl Leydecker spoke at length about the University's recent financial issues, which he blamed on rising inflation and decreased international demand for UK higher education.
The veteran linguist told an incredulous crowd that an official consultation on the future of the University's modern languages department would be launched on Thursday.
He also confirmed that despite requests by AUSA VP for Education Rhiannon Ledwell, students had been denied representation on the group formulating the proposals.
He noted: “It's not usual for students to be involved in a management steering group of this type. I think it will be difficult for students to fulfil their role in that.”
However, the veteran prof insisted that students would have opportunities to provide their views as part of the consultation process.
While Professor Leydecker refused to be drawn on specific questions relating to the proposals, he suggested that the road ahead would be challenging.
He told students: “We will set out what the situation is, and you will understand why we need to do something.
“It's very deeply painful for staff, for students, and for myself as a linguist… but there comes a point when one has to review what is happening because it's not financially sustainable.
“If we continue down the route we are, we imperil other parts of the University because of the financial position.”
This did little to placate the tense crowd, who questioned Professor Leydecker and University CFO Mark White for over thirty minutes, with many queries punctuated by sustained applause.
One question about whether the University had recovered the £119,000 owed them by former Principal Ian Diamond sparked derisive laughter among students, as a perturbed Professor Leydecker told the audience that they had not.
The University number two appeared via Microsoft Teams, despite holding meetings on campus earlier in the day.
It is unclear why he was unable to attend in person.
After the senior managers departed, members of the language department presented their case to student councillors.
They painted a different picture than that constructed by Professor Leydecker, telling students they believed that the recent decline in admissions numbers was reversible.
The Student Council unanimously approved an emergency motion expressing support for lecturers and condemning any proposals by the University which would include the removal of degree programmes.
More to come.