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  • Writer's pictureThe Gaudie

It Will Take All of Us to Save Our Languages

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

The fate of the language department is incredibly important

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

I'm not very good at languages, to be honest. Four years of high school Spanish didn't quite stick.

However, the cultural experiences I had during those years are ones which will stay with me forever.

We studied much more than how to conjugate verbs or spell words. We learned about music, literature, and food- the backbone of a culture.

For those who continue their language study at the university level, I imagine the experience is quite similar.

The University of Aberdeen has been the home of language programmes for over a century.

Now, that proud history has been jeopardised.

University management tell us the modern language department is “at the end of the road.”

Declining enrollment, they contend, means the department is no longer sustainable.

There's much that can be said about the commercialisation of education. Indeed, the current crisis is predicated by a significant financial miscalculation by University management.

However, this isn't a zero sum game. It can't be.

The continued provision of language degrees here in Aberdeen is essential.

We are an ancient university. Our heritage is one of our strengths. For five hundred years, we've educated untold thousands- generations of scholars, teachers, doctors, and scientists.

Why does it feel that those in charge are comfortable with leaving that legacy in tatters?

I've been told that the drop off in enrollment has primarily occurred since 2021, having remained steady for a decade prior.

So I ask, is it worth dismantling one of the University's most prestigious departments, all because of a few bad years?

It won't be easy. Creative solutions will need to be found.

But failure isn't an option. The closure of the language department is the proverbial canary in the coal mine.

If it goes, what's to stop the demise of other small departments like Divinity, Film, and Art History?

It's already been confirmed that the University is also looking at changes in the Schools of Geoscience and Biological Sciences.

If modern languages are neglected and degree programmes discarded- it is the beginning of the end for less profitable departments.

All of us, staff and students, must stand up and declare “Enough!”. We must write letters, ask questions, and show up!!

We will not let our University fall into managed decline.

We will not allow our community to fear for their jobs or future careers.

We are ALL in the same boat, rowing together against a storm of commercial interests and profit margins.

We must not flounder.

We will save our languages.


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