Key facts about the threat to Modern Languages

Swansea University Modern Languages ‘restructuring’ proposals

All 22 academic staff in the Modern Languages Department received a letter on Friday 6 August informing them that their jobs were ‘at risk’ and that they would have to reapply for a reduced number of posts. There was no prior consultation.

Management proposals specify 10 new academic staff FTE (full-time equivalent) posts in the reconstituted Department, broken down as follows: 

French            4          (reduced from 6)

German          3.5       (reduced from 7)

Spanish          2.5       (reduced from 5 full-time and 2 part-time staff).

Italian              0          (reduced from 2)

Management has confirmed that the 10 new FTE posts will include 2 new Welsh-medium posts (not yet confirmed as they depend on external funding). This means that Modern Languages staff will be forced to compete against one another for 8 posts.

The two posts currently occupied by full-time lecturers in Italian will be ‘deleted’. There will be no Italian academic staff left following the proposed restructuring; just 1 FTE language tutor will remain.

A ‘consultation process’ has taken place, following which no changes have been made to management’s proposals.

Management looks likely to take the proposals to the University Council Meeting on 28 March 2011. If the Council approves the proposals, a Redundancy Committee would then be set up, with compulsory redundancies almost certain to follow. If this were to happen, it would be the first time that Swansea University has made compulsory redundancies.

These proposals are bad for Swansea University and bad for Wales.

  • Swansea University will lose a nationally and internationally recognised centre for Modern Languages teaching and research, which has been built up over the past 20 years.
  • Wales needs linguists. A number of government-backed reports have highlighted the strategic importance of modern languages for Wales. The Welsh Assembly document ‘Making Languages Count’ calls for the fostering of the learning of languages and cultures as a means of enabling Wales to meet the increased need for linguistic and cultural awareness in business and industry. Rather than foster languages in Wales, these proposals will cause irreparable long-term damage.
  • The British Academy paper ‘Language Matters More and More’ (Feb 2011) recommends that UK universities place language learning and internationalisation at the heart of their missions. The paper concludes that ‘the study of languages is fundamental to the prosperity, well-being, security and competitiveness of the UK’.

The proposals directly contradict the values of the university as expressed in its own motto, ‘Gweddw crefft heb ei dawn’ (‘Technical skill is bereft without culture’).

Modern Languages at Swansea currently offers students both. It must continue to do so.

If you share our concern about these proposals, we urge you to sign our petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petition/39117.html

Please also express your concern to your local AM or MP:

MPs can be contacted via http://www.theyworkforyou.com/

AMs can be contacted via this site

Thank you for your support.

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2 Responses to Key facts about the threat to Modern Languages

  1. Pingback: ‘A scarcity of linguists in Wales’ says Institute of Welsh Affairs article | Modern Languages at Swansea's Blog

  2. Pingback: The Fight for Modern Foreign Languages is far from over « The Siren

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