• Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

UCU Aberdeen to strike over widespread budget cuts

ByBea Newington-Bridges

Feb 17, 2024
Exterior of King's College Chapel at the University of Aberdeen

The Aberdeen University and College Union (UCU) has voted to for strike in response to widespread budget cuts at the University of Aberdeen (UoA), with a 60 per cent turnout and 80 per cent voting to back strike action. 

The UoA announced in November that continuing its modern languages department was “unsustainable,” and proposed eliminating its French, Gaelic, German and Spanish degrees. 

Extensive backlash from staff, students and the public has delayed the university’s initial plans and was successful in ensuring that joint honours language degrees would be protected.

UoA’s student newspaper The Gaudie told The Student: 

“The fact that University management has backed down from their original plans shows the strength of student and staff opposition to the cuts. While we welcome the decision to keep joint honours degrees, around thirty members of our modern language department remain at risk of losing their jobs. 

“This is highly regrettable – University management must take immediate steps to rectify the series of mistakes which have led to this problematic position.”

On 7 February, Aberdeen UCU’s ballot closed, three months after senior management first launched the consultation on language provision at the University. 

The branch chair of Aberdeen UCU, Dr Rachel Shanks, called the ballot results an “embarrassment” for the university. 

Scotland’s National Centre for Languages (SCILT) termed it “extremely disturbing.” 

The proposal would threaten the jobs of at least 50 per cent of the department’s staff.

After the decision to strike was announced, Shanks stated that UCU members “have made it abundantly clear that senior managers need to rethink their plan to cut jobs and cut the university’s offer in languages.”

In October 2023, the University announced they were battling a £15m budget deficit after a plateau in admissions from international students for this academic year. 

Other departments have also been warned to cut staff budgets.

Prior to the ballot results, The Gaudie said that “if the majority of UCU members vote for industrial action, students should expect a number of strike days throughout the spring term. Staff, especially those in modern languages, are upset over how they have been treated in recent months.”

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