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Modern languages school at University of Ulster Coleraine campus to close

Published 02/09/2015

University of Ulster
University of Ulster

The University of Ulster is set to close its School of Modern languages at its Coleraine campus due to budget cuts.

Students who are due to begin their modern language degrees later this month will be able to complete them - and likewise existing students will be able to finish their degrees.

The school teaches subjects such as French, German, Spanish and Chinese.

The move follows an £8.6m cut in the funding received from the Department of Employment at Stormont.

According to the BBC about 20 staff are employed at the school.

In addition a third of jobs will be lost in the School of History with a reduction from 15-10 posts and that two posts will be lost in the School of Media, Film and Journalism - this is also at the Coleraine campus.

Across the University as a whole it is expected around 185 full-time posts will go.

A spokeswoman for the University of Ulster said: “In June, the University confirmed that 1250 student places and approximately 210 staff posts would be lost as a direct result of the NI Executive budget cuts.

"The University is now advising those individuals who are likely to be affected. Until this briefing process has completed, it would be inappropriate to confirm any speculation around decisions relating to specific courses or subject areas."

Reacting to the news the chair of the Stormont Employment and Learning Committee Robin Swann said the cuts were a "predictable outcome" of the Executive's budget.

The UUP MLA said: "What we are now seeing is the inevitable outworking of the cut to the Department of Employment and Learnings budget which has been passed on the Higher and Further Education sectors.

“Whilst it is depressingly predictable that the Universities would have to make difficult decisions in terms of course provision, we should not forget where this is coming from.

"It all stems from the cuts to the 2015/16 Departmental budget, which were agreed and imposed by the Executive parties of DUP and Sinn Fein, and the financial consequences of money being lost due to welfare reform fines."

Mr Swann added: "We should be investing in modern languages which will give our students the ability to perform on the world stage, in industry, in financial markets, in international business, in a country that is dependent on exports.

"I think it is very short sighted to remove the potential for our students to develop modern language skills."

Speaking after the reports of cuts to jobs and third-level education courses Sinn Fein MLA Maeve McLaughlin said that local political parties need to "stand together against continued Tory cuts to the Executive’s budget".

She said: “I am very disappointed that the University of Ulster is preparing to announce job losses at Coleraine and Magee and that entire departments are to be scrapped.

“The education of our young people is vital to the future prosperity of our society and it needs to be properly resourced.

“However, the continued Tory cuts to the Executive’s budget is impacting on our ability to deliver front-line public services and social protections.

“I am calling on the local political parties to get back to the task of tackling the real issues facing all our people, by standing together in opposition to Tory austerity and in defence of our front-line public services and the welfare state.”

Unite the Union has condemned Northern Ireland's Executive budget saying it has "forced brutal cuts on the Higher Education sector".

Unite’s officer with responsibility for the union’s membership at the University of Ulster, Sean Smyth said the decision was "undermining our ability to compete in the global market.

Mr Smyth said: "Higher Education is vital to efforts to transform Northern Ireland’s economy onto a higher value-added basis. By deciding to slash funding for Higher Education, the NI Executive risks undermining our ability to compete in the global market.

“The short-sightedness of Stormont policies is exemplified by the fact that the cuts will force the closure of the Modern Language School in Coleraine. It isn’t that long ago since we lost the German Department in Queens University.

"How can Northern Ireland develop an outward-looking economy without an adequate supply of people able to communicate in modern languages like Chinese and German?

“Cuts to Further and Higher Education are a false economy. Stormont needs to look at expenditure on Further and Higher Education as an investment for a better future instead of as an easy target for austerity targets."

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