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Stress over modern language cuts leaves students at "non-functional level"

Updated: Jan 30

Students speak out as anxiety over potential redundancies affects studies

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

As University bosses ponder the future of the modern language department, students have raised concerns about their lack of involvement in the process.

At a student welfare meeting held last week, nearly two dozen modern language students spoke of experiencing anxiety and stress due to ongoing uncertainty over the outcome of their degrees.

Students request “extra provisions” over cut trauma 

According to a written transcript of the meeting, Dean of Student Support Jason Bohan was told that many students have been operating at a “non-functional level” in recent months, lacking the capacity to concentrate on their lectures or meet deadlines.

One student labelled the ongoing consultation as a “time-suck” -  mentally and physically pulling modern language students away from their studies. 

Those in attendance also noted that ongoing stresses for lecturers have impacted assessment and teaching, with some expressing concern over delayed marks from the first term.

Students called on University management to provide “extra provisions” for those affected by the consultation. This could include revised deadlines for assessments and dissertations. 

Calls for student representation again rejected by University chiefs 

Despite a public request by Scottish Government Minister for Higher Education Graeme Dey, University management has continued to block student representation on the modern languages steering group.

This has been the consistent position of management since the consultation was announced.

Speaking at AUSA’s AGM in November, Professor Leydecker told students that representation on the steering group would be limited to staff members.

At the time, he said: “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.”

Complaints made against Head of School

Head of LLMVC Chris Collins, who has helped to oversee the consultation, has also come under fire in recent months.

Several formal complaints have been made against his handling of a student focus group in early December.

One complaint alleges that Professor Collins’ office did not publish slides ahead of the meeting in a timely manner.

Additionally, it states that repeated requests for the online-only meeting to be held as a hybrid proceeding were rejected without an explanation.

The second complaint claims that Professor Collins lost his temper during the meeting, “angrily” shouting at an undergraduate languages student after the student accused him of manipulating data.

When The Gaudie reached out to Professor Collins for comment, the embattled head directed us to the University communications team.

A spokesperson subsequently told us:

"The University does not discuss if or what complaints are ever made against individuals."

What comes next?

The meeting came as tensions continue to rise over the potential cuts, which could see 52% of the department's thirty lecturers made redundant. 

For their part, University managers pivoted from a more substantial cuts package in December, which would have resulted in all degree programmes in the department shut down. 

Bosses have stressed the need for change due to declining enrolment of modern languages students, an assertion that has been criticised by lecturers. 

Strikes during this term are likely to occur, as members of academic trade union UCU have been balloted for industrial action.

The result of the ballot should be known sometime late next week. 


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