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Motion to Save UoA Language Degrees Discussed at Scottish Parliament

Updated: Jan 20

AUSA VP Rhiannon Ledwell Joins Student Demonstration Outside Holyrood

By Kirsten Koss

Photo Credit: AUSA

Following cross-party support from more than 30 MSPs, a motion to stop the controversial consultation and save language degrees at the University of Aberdeen was discussed yesterday at the Scottish Parliament.


During the Scottish Parliament Members’ Business, MSP Kevin Stewart’s motion was brought to Holyrood.  The motion which was submitted by the local Aberdeen Central MSP in December was supported by the SNP, Greens and the Labour party. A group of student campaigners joined Students’ Union VP for Education Rhiannon Ledwell at a protest outside of the Scottish Parliament building.


In the afternoon representatives from the Students’ Union attended a private meeting with the Minister for Higher and Further Education, Graeme Dey. Following the debate, Mr Dey said in the chamber:


“My expectation is that compulsory redundancies should be considered only as a last resort, after all other cost-saving measures have been fully explored.”


Reflecting on his meeting with AUSA VP for Education Rhiannon Ledwell, the minister said:


“I was concerned to learn that the steering group that is leading on the matter contains no student representation.


Further, I understand that staff representation from the impacted faculty is only marginally better.


I will therefore ask the University of Aberdeen to reconsider that stance, because it is important that all views are heard and that maximum transparency is at play around decisions that are as impactful as the ones that we are talking about. I will also ask the university to reflect on whether all credible alternative options to the one that is now being pursued have been fully explored.”


Meanwhile, Aberdeen Donside MSP Jackie Dunbar met with students, including Spanish and Latin America (SLAM) student Charlotte Gorrie and PR officer of the SLAM society who said:


“It was great that the motion was brought to parliament and to see so much cross-party engagement with the motion. I feel cautiously optimistic and hope that positive change will come from today.”


At the meeting, when asked what the University should do to protect staff jobs, Aberdeen Donside MSP Jackie Dunbar said:


“Everything. I will always vote to save jobs. There’s nothing worse than redundancies. I hope that the university will abide by the fair work principles, doing everything by the book. The university should support all staff at risk of redundancy.”


When asked what the government should do, Dunbar said:


“I hope the government does all it can.”


Before meeting with the minister for Higher and Further Education, Rhiannon Ledwell said:


“Currently dozens of jobs and 60% of courses could be axed following ‘at risk’ letters which were sent out to all staff in the language department in the lead up to Christmas.


“There is a shortage of language teachers in Scotland, and drastic cuts at the one hub for teacher training in the Northeast will only worsen the situation further. This is even more dire for Gaelic. As one of just four institutions in the country with a degree in the language, removing any Gaelic provisions will have devastating consequences for a minority language.


“Chronic underfunding by the UK Government has led to unsustainable financial circumstances throughout the Higher Education sector and unfortunately the University of Aberdeen is no exception.


“We now need the Scottish Government to intervene and stop this botched consultation, enabling a new long-term plan that takes into account all of the data and seriously considers viable alternatives which could save jobs and language degrees.”


The fight to save courses, jobs and degrees at the university continues.


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