Thursday, February 10, 2011


We interrupt your regularly scheduled my-incoherent-sort-of-writing-related-ramblings for some new, off the cuff thoughts.

So as I've stated numerous times I have plenty of friends from Scotland. I say from because a few of them are now living in England or, in the case of one friend, Belgium*. Anyway I have a plethora of friends in Scotland and this morning I have been speaking to some of them. Well, actually, I woke up to an email from a friend teasing me because the weather here is less-than-pleasant and it's 8 (46F) and sunny there today which lead to me calling her and us talking for a while.

Then just a very short while ago I received a call from one of my friends who attends the University of Glasgow. And that call is why I am writing this post while my brain is still processing things.

Okay, so a little background.

Last spring you will recall I was following the British news a lot more closely than I do on a normal basis (which is very closely) because there was an upcoming general election, which occurred in May. No party won a sufficient number of seats to command a majority of Parliament (a hung Parliament) but because the Conservatives held the most seats they were given first run at forming government, which has produced the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

I won't go into reasons why because this can turn into some very muddy waters, but suffice it to say that as you would expect from the Conservatives there have been cuts. One of the many places to see budget cuts is higher education. Understandably, programmes must be cut and some courses will face closure because they simply cannot maintain costs with a lesser budget. This is fine.

However, one has to wonder just what the logic is behind the cuts here. According to the friend who called me** nursing, adult education, social work, and anthropology are getting scrapped. The first one seems a bit excessive but may be understandable IF there isn't big enough market. It still seems stupid to drop nursing altogether, but if you only have like two dozen nursing students I could understand it. History, classics, and archaeology will merge. Okay.

What angers me more, and actually what prompted this, is their slashing of modern languages and cultures. German, Russian, Polish, Czech, Italian, comparative literature, Slavonic studies, and basically all other similar courses (the friend who called said that they're basically getting rid of everything but French). And it's...why? What purpose does this possibly serve?

Yes, the budget has been cut and they need to compensate. Yes, the degree of cuts all schools are facing is beyond crazy. I get that.

But why the language/culture studies? Glasgow has actually seen a rise in the number of students taking those courses. Surely this would be the first department or among the first you try to save? There's not much more important than foreign language and culture studies.

Oh well. Nothing to be done but keep in the loop and hope things turn out for the best.

*Also is it me or is Belgium borderline an inherently funny word?
**I intend to call another friend who attends the same school shortly, to see if I can't find out more. 

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