More than 1,000 sign petition launched to save Modern Languages at Ulster University
More than 1,000 people have signed a petition urging Stormont to save the School of Modern Languages which is earmarked for closure at Ulster University.
Yesterday it was announced that Modern Languages along with Interior Design would be scrapped from the Coleraine campus due to Stormont budget cuts.
The University's Vice Chancellor Paddy Nixon said it had been forced to act because it could not absorb any further funding reductions.
These cuts also include the loss of 1,250 students places and 210 jobs.
They come after Ulster University saw its budget from the Department of Employment and Learning reduced by 10%.
The petition on change.org says: "The loss of language courses will disadvantage Northern Ireland in the increasingly competitive global market by reducing the number of graduates familiar with these key world languages.
"It is worth noting that China is the world's single largest market and is likely to be a key driver of foreign investment in future years. Meanwhile, Germany remains the economic powerhouse of Europe and its industries are keen to invest in locations where graduates familiar with English and German can found.
It adds: "We, the undersigned, request that you should reverse this dreadful decision to preserve the long-term economic competitiveness of Northern Ireland and maximise the supply of skilled graduates available for employment in the region.
"In addition, we request that the Ulster University should reverse cuts to its History School in view of the importance of history to regional society and cuts to its Media School given the status of the creative industries (particularly film and television) as drivers of economic activity in the region."
The minister responsible for higher education, Stephen Farry,was yesterday accused of not supporting Ulster University after the institution said it had been forced to scrap its school of modern languages.
Ulster University Student's Union said it was "deeply distressed" to learn of the "devastating cuts".
In a statement yesterday Vice Chancellor Nixon said: ""We cannot absorb further cuts so now, more than ever, we must be decisive.
"We must strengthen our focus on the sustainable delivery of high-quality teaching and world-leading research that produces graduates with industry-ready, relevant skills that benefit business and society.
"As a multi-campus institution, Ulster University faces particular considerations and our decisions reflect a strategic, longer term vision, not just for each campus but for the entire institution.
"Each campus will now have specific sectoral alignments, essentially becoming centres of expertise."
Ulster University Students’ Union President Colum Mackey said the Northern Ireland Executive has "failed to prioritise higher education" and said the University must "react to the reduction in funding".
The University said a number of factors were taken into consideration in determining where the cuts would impact - including student demand, attrition rates, student satisfaction, employment statistics and research performance.
Six subject areas have been identified for course rationalisation:
* Interior Design
* Marine Science
* Business Management
* Modern Languages/Translation
Of these, only Interior Design and Modern Languages will close in their entirety.