SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has again condemned cuts proposed by Aberdeen University to its modern languages departments, including Gaelic.

The islands’ MSP served in the Scottish Government as Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages between 2011 and 2016, and is an alumnus of Aberdeen University.

In November, Aberdeen University began consulting on proposals to cut the provision of modern languages due to a significant financial deficit and falling international student numbers.

After facing significant backlash from students, staff, alumni and the wider academic community, the university confirmed they would continue providing joint honours language degrees, but that they would no longer be offering single honours courses. 50% of the departments’ staff are at risk of redundancy as a result. Some of these have worked at the university for over twenty years.

Last night in the Scottish Parliament, Alasdair Allan spoke in a Member’s Debate on the issue, led by the university’s local MSP, Kevin Stewart.

In his speech, Allan highlighted the importance of multilingualism, noting that the UK’s general monolingualism is very unusual compared with the rest of the globe.

Speaking in the chamber, he said:

“It is deeply disappointing to see my alma mater, the University of Aberdeen, taking an apparent step backwards in its commitment to language degrees.

“These proposals undermine the very idea of a university as a place where students come to realise that the world does not operate only in English.

“Universities are, of course, independent of government. But I would urge the University of Aberdeen to think again about what kind of university it wants to be, and to listen to the voices of concern being raised by its students, staff and graduates.”


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