UHI's Gaelic-language strategy sets standard

August 13, 2009

Degrees in subjects from music to media studies will be taught in Gaelic by a Scottish institution in a move that others in the sector are being encouraged to follow.

The UHI Millennium Institute will also offer its students modules in the history and culture of Gaelic as part of a newly launched language plan.

Other subjects to be offered in the tongue include cultural studies, education and teaching.

The institute, which has 11 constituent colleges and is soon to become the University of the Highlands and Islands, is leading the way in Scotland by publishing a Gaelic-language strategy.

It follows in the footsteps of Welsh universities, which already offer similar provision in their native tongue.

The universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor and Swansea are among those that offer degrees taught in Welsh in disciplines other than the language itself.

Anna Walker, Gaelic development officer at UHI, said the language strategy would open up the institution to new learners.

"We're delivering services to communities where Gaelic is a living language," she said. "We have a duty to support potential and existing students, and we're allowing them to use their language of choice."

Hugh Dan MacLennan, a member of the management support team at Bord na Gaidhlig, Scotland's Gaelic Language Board, said the university was "ahead of the field".

He said: "UHI is strategically and practically in a very important position within the Gaelic education sector.

"It's very important it is seen to be delivering a meaningful and robust Gaelic policy. If it is not doing so successfully, others will not follow suit."

Other universities in Scotland may follow the institution's lead.

The University of Glasgow recently appointed a Gaelic development officer, and a language strategy is expected to follow.

"One would hope that where one institution goes, others will follow," Dr MacLennan said. "We're looking to UHI to set a standard."

hannah.fearn@tsleducation.com.

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