“The staff running the Adult and Continuning Education programme (DACE) were delighted at the tremendous public support shown by staff and students alike for this programme to continue. They are also pleased that the University’s consultation group saw fit to recommend that the programme should continue to run after all. A number of changes have been recommended, some of which we have no problem with. Our main concern is the proposal to remove our share of the teaching grant and that we should become ‘self-sufficient’ within three years. We are completely opposed to this. We will have to wait and see the detail before we are sure of its significance. One interpretation is that it will effectively lead to a privatisation of the programme, though we have been asured we are not being set up to fail. We are working constructively with the recommended changes – we recognise that the consultation group had a lot of positive things to say – but we have communicated clearly our concerns and remain very alert to the potential problems and dangers lying ahead.” — Liam Kane, Senior Lecturer (Social Justice Place and Lifelong Education)
“1. The excellence of Czech language teaching at Glasgow is in a league of its own. It is one of the two best Czech departments in the world (the other is in the USA in the midwest). If it is closed or watered down, there willl be nowhere in Britain to send students to learn the
language well enough and quickly enough to be of any use. I know offhand of 5 postgraduate students, all with first-class undergraduate degrees, who hope to study Czech at Glasgow from next year (2011-2012). It is very obvious that postgraduate numbers (unsurprisingly given the current recession) are set to rise sharply.
2. There are just two centres of excellence in Central and Eastern European languages and cultures in the whole of Britain: London and Glasgow. Each has its own natural catchment area. Both should be supported. Many students can not afford to live in London. Glasgow will have a future if it remains attractive to students. Students who study minority subjects (Czech at Glasgow, Sanskrit at Oxford, Persian at Cambridge) typically maintain tremendous loyalty to their departments and go on to do interesting things and to make their mark on the world. They are a good advertisement for any university.
London and Glasgow are the only places in Britain with a longstanding tradition and reputation, and where there are serious concentrations of relevant language teaching, research reputation, library and archival resources, etc. They are the only places which can justly be thought of as CENTRES of EXCELLENCE in reality (as opposed to mere jargon).
What is clear from annual international summer schools in Czech language funded by the Czech government is that the language teaching at Glasgow as currently constituted is the best in the world (students of Czech from Korea, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, the USA, England, Bulgaria, Italy, Russia etc etc are literally YEARS behind their counterparts from Glasgow). If this is because the student numbers at Glasgow are small, then this should be acknowledged as an asset, not a problem. Excellence in anything comes at a price; and with language teaching in particular, anything less than excellence is pointless: one either knows a language or one doesn’t.
Every historian who wants to study Czechoslovakia knows the history by the former Glasgow academic William Wallace. Every Czech in the world who wants to learn English knows the dictionaries written by former Glasgow academic Josef Fronek. Every Czech in the world who wants to know what is going on in Britain has heard of the internet journal run by current Glasgow academic Jan Culik. Such reputations take generations to build.” — Mary Heimann, senior academic at Strathclyde University
“Over 90+% of all standardly contracted University of Glasgow staff at the Dumfries campus (including secretaries and support staff but excluding the Director and senior administrators) are member of UCU. And (I think I can claim) without exception they oppose the planned closure of the Liberal Arts degree. The degree provides the only Higher Education opportunity for people in the whole of Southwest Scotland to study Arts and Humanities. It is the second most popular course at the campus (sometimes the most popular), the threat to its survival will damage not only this campus, but the region as a whole.” — Benjamin Franks, UCUG Crichton Campus (Glasgow University Dumfries Campus)
“University of Glasgow has a longstanding tradition of teaching Slavonic languages and cultural studies within SMLC, and is one of only two academic institutions in the United Kingdom to offer courses which complement linguistic study with courses on literature, film, art and media. This is to ensure students who go through the Slavonic Studies programme not only have a language under their belts, but also a deep and well-rounded understanding of Polish, Czech, Slovak and Russian cultures as well. The department comprises many respected academics, with research that has been presented and published around the world, and has strong links with academic institutions in Central & Eastern Europe.
The proposed cutting of Slavonic Studies not only threatens the teaching of Slavic languages in Scotland, but also sets back international cooperation between Scotland and the region in question. Students who wish to pursue studies in fields such as Czech Cinema and Russian Literature will be forced to relocate to London or overseas to fulfill their ambitions. As a student who has recently completed their Undergraduate degree, I am faced with such a dilemma myself. Through the department I was given the opportunity to enhance my understanding through studying in Prague, one-to-one tuition with specialists, and outside cultural events; and it saddens me that I may be one of the last students to benefit from these features of Slavonic Studies in Glasgow.
To me, the proposed cuts at the University seem to focus around turning Glasgow into an elite Business School that is isolated and cut off from the rest of the world, and in particular Central & Eastern Europe. The department of Central & Eastern European Studies works closely with Slavonics, to the extent that many courses offered are in cooperation with both departments, and that current plans will also hurt students in areas that are not going to be axed at this time. Factor in the redundancies of respected, helpful and popular members of staff and we can see how Muscatelli’s vision is not in the interests of students or academic research, which our university used to pride itself on.
I will be marching on the 22nd of June to Stop Muscatelli and to save Slavonic Studies, and hope that you will to!” — Sam, Slavonic Studies Student