Fighting fund banner


Save UoA languages

Aberdeen University staff overwhelmingly back industrial action in row over modern languages cuts and job losses

7 February 2024

Staff at the University of Aberdeen have today backed strikes in a dispute over plans to end single-honours degrees in modern languages and put 30 staff at risk of redundancy.

In the ballot of UCU Scotland members, 80% of those who voted backed strike action on a turnout of 60%.

On 30 November, the same day that the Scottish Government launched its Scottish languages bill, the university announced a consultation with proposals to end single honours degrees in French, Gaelic, German, and Spanish; to end both single and joint honours degrees; or to end all language degree programmes. At the time, amidst widespread criticism, UCU general secretary Jo Grady called the proposals 'academic vandalism'.

After a campaign by the union, staff and students and criticism from European consulates, the university backtracked and on 12 December decided to pull two of the options but to press ahead with the plan to end single-honours languages degrees at Aberdeen. The union said that this plan remained unacceptable as the threat to modern languages research and the possibility of compulsory redundancies are still in place.

The union said it wants to work with the employer to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies and to find alternative savings in modern languages and elsewhere in the university. The local branch will meet over the coming days to consider its next steps.

Aberdeen branch chair, Dr Rachel Shanks, said: 'By voting in these numbers, UCU members at the University of Aberdeen have made it abundantly clear that senior managers need to rethink their plans to cut jobs and cut the university's offer in languages. The ballot result is a mandate for industrial action and to oppose job cuts.

'Aberdeen is an important employer in North-East Scotland and cuts of this scale will have a serious impact on the economy locally, the student experience, and both the university and city's reputation. It is not too late for university managers to work with UCU, and others and to find alternatives that don't involve such drastic cuts and job losses.'

Last updated: 8 February 2024