• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Strike ballot opens at Aberdeen University over cuts to language degrees

ByAsia Kane

Jan 17, 2024
Old chapel building in Aberdeen

Following Aberdeen University’s decision to cut single-honours language degrees, staff are balloting on strike action over potential job losses.

The ballot opened on 4 January, and will run until 7 February.

81 per cent of union members have said they would support strike action.

All members of staff in the modern languages department were sent “risk of redundancy” letters at the start of December 2023.

The university has offered them four months of severance pay.

Read More: Vice Principal announces plans to cut Modern Languages degrees at Aberdeen University 

A representative of the Aberdeen branch of the University and College Union (UCU) described it as a “poor offer.”

The redundancy document stated that “the proposed date of severance/early retirement should be no later than 29 February 2024.”

According to university management, low student enrolment has made language degrees financially unsustainable.

An Aberdeen University spokesperson said that each language programme enrols, on average, “just one new student” per year.

However, UCU branch chair Dr Rachel Shanks called the decision “embarrassing,” stating that “modern languages are a key part of any university.”

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The financial difficulties with the modern languages department were first raised in a meeting on 21 June.

Following this discovery, staff have questioned why they were not made aware of the problem until October.

One member of staff told The Gaudie that “the entire process appears to have been unduly rushed.”

Jo Grady, UCU General Secretary, said that staff “should be invested in rather than face losing their jobs.”

An online petition calling for the preservation of language degrees at the university has been signed by more than 15,000 people.

King’s College Chapel, University of Aberdeen” by Devinberg is licensed under CC BY 4.0.