Language staff wait to learn their fate

March 12, 2004

Academics who teach modern languages at De Montfort University are waiting to hear whether they will be redeployed or made redundant as the temporary suspension of their courses becomes permanent closure.

The university said admissions to joint-honours language courses in the humanities and social sciences were suspended in 2002-03 after "very low" numbers of applications. Talks were under way with staff about the permanent closure of the courses, the university said.

It remains unclear whether some language teaching will survive at De Montfort - which has campuses in Leicester and Bedford - as a support service for other disciplines.

One languages tutor, who asked not to be named, said: "The university is not very clear at the moment what it wants to do. We are all waiting to hear what our fate is going to be.

"The university is in the middle of a restructuring process. Languages has been an area at risk for quite some time. There has been a substantial decline in applications, and that is true right across the country.

"It is difficult to tell how much the university wants to keep a language provision. One of the problems now is that if you offer a degree course, you get funding. But if you offer languages as a sort of service with other courses, it is more difficult to find sources of funding. We know that there will be cuts and we expect that it may be a significant reduction."

De Montfort said that as the courses were taught by "predominantly multiskilled" tutors within the School of History and International Studies, the aim would be to "avoid redundancies and to redeploy staff".

A spokesman said: "At this stage, it is not possible to predict what the final outcomes on staffing will be as we are still in negotiation with the staff concerned, as required by our procedures.

"The university does not have a language department but has run some joint-honours language courses within the wider School of History and International Studies," the spokesman said.

"Regretfully, admissions to these programmes were suspended last academic year due to the very low numbers of applications received.

"At the same time, some language provision continues as elements within other awards. The university has followed the procedure of its academic board in closing the joint programmes, and has sought to minimise effects on staff and students," he said.

The spokesman added: "The suspension of admissions to the joint-honours programmes will lead to permanent closure, and such proposals are currently in process."

paul.hill@thes.co.uk

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