The University Council For Languages has been made aware of plans to restructure the provision of languages and cultures at the University of Aberdeen. We have written to the senior leadership team at the University of Aberdeen to urge them in the strongest possible terms to sustain their commitment to degrees in languages and cultures as part of the future of their institution.

Aberdeen has a long and highly distinguished history of leadership in languages and cultures. Amongst the most recent notable examples are Professor Michelle Macleod’s contribution to national research strategy as an AHRC Future of Languages Research Fellow, and Professor Edward Welch’s service as Deputy Chair of the Advisory Group for the QAA Subject Benchmark Statement for Languages, Cultures and Societies 2023, which has shaped the structure and future of languages degrees across the UK. Not only are colleagues fulfilling national advocacy roles, leadership roles in learned societies and editorships of international journals, but Aberdeen is also a lead partner for an important new language mentoring programme developed with SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages.

The University of Aberdeen stands in a unique position as an ancient university serving a global community and the North East of Scotland. As such, the University plays a vital civic role in maintaining knowledge of and knowledge through languages in the North East. Were Aberdeen to phase out its language degrees, there would be no such provision north of Scotland’s central belt. Creating a languages cold spot in the region would compound existing challenges in relation to secondary teacher training and recruitment in the north of Scotland, given the requirement for secondary languages teachers to have a degree in the subject. Maintaining degrees in languages and cultures is therefore essential as a service to the communities of the north of Scotland, particularly given the Scottish Government’s current emphasis on language learning and language teacher recruitment as a strategic priority.

The UCFL has built up substantial experience over a number of years in providing external expertise for programme review and development. We have written to offer our assistance in that capacity, providing consultative support as Aberdeen colleagues take forward their plans over a more extended period of time.

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