Nice one, Swansea University

I don’t tend to write about serious matters on this blog, but this has been something I’ve been meaning to sit down and write about for some time.

As some of you may know, Swansea University are planning to make significant cuts to the Modern Languages Department. I’ve already written about this for ThirdYearAbroad, as well as being lucky enough to write about the cuts already affecting the department (Catalan, Portuguese and Russian went this year) for Swansea’s student newspaper. Here are the key cuts, courtesy of the Modern Languages at Swansea blog (which incidentally, is well worth a read for an update on the situation):

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)

As you can see, they’re planning to cut the department pretty much in half. There’s been a huge uproar from the students here at the University, with an event going on tomorrow outside the building where most Modern Languages lectures take place as well as a ‘funeral march’ for the department planned for the 6th of December. (EDIT : Here’s the Facebook link for the event for those of you who’d like to attend!) Our point is that these cuts may as well be the death of languages at Swansea University. No other department faces such extensive cuts. We already lag far, far behind our  European counterparts in terms of linguistic ability, as I experienced first hand in Germany. It’s sobering to think that most German 12 year olds can speak more English than your average British 18 year old can French or German. These cuts show a complete disregard for the importance of Modern Languages.

Considering all this, you can imagine my disgust when this pops up in my inbox this morning:

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The 8th of December you say? Exactly the same date and time as the march? Light refreshments? Don’t mind if I do, I’ll happily munch on a ham sarnie as the University gives themselves a big pat on the back for their excellent job on the study abroad programmes while the rest of my peers make a stand for Modern Languages.

Words fail me.

So here’s my RSVP :

Dear Sir/Madam,

I’m afraid I’ll have to decline your invitation. As you may already be aware, there will be a funeral procession that day in protest to the cuts to the Modern Languages Department, and that is far higher on my priority list than attending a celebration of a programme which is likely to be in jeopardy if those cuts go through.

I find it utterly hypocritical of the University and the Vice-Chancellor to organise such an event considering the cuts proposed. The Modern Languages Department is the whole reason I went to Germany on a year abroad – I didn’t go just to ‘study abroad’ and have a whale of a time, I went to SPEAK GERMAN. How can you expect a German department consisting of 3.5 staff to provide the same sort of experience to future students?

Furthermore, the fact that it’s been organised for the 6th of December at exactly the same time as the funeral procession seems like a shallow attempt to divert attention from the march. Shame on you if this is the case.

Regards,
Elena Cresci

Sorry V.C, I’ll be too busy wearing my black veil to attend any sort of shallow, self-serving attempt to draw attention from the gross injustice you’ve proposed to inflict on the Modern Language department. You can take your invite and shove it where the sun don’t shine, I’ll be grieving the department that came so recommended when I began studying here.