The University of Hull faced with a strike against the plan to abandon language courses

The University of Hull could be the subject of a strike following the threat of closure of modern language courses and the dismissal of the president of the section of the University and Colleges (UCU) who has worked there for 22 years.

Staff have been asked to participate in a strike vote on Friday which will end on July 9.

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The university wants to stop recruiting students for its modern languages ​​degrees and all post-graduate language courses from September this year and will replace short language courses with app-based learning.

According to his plans, the following courses would close after current students graduate: BA in Modern Applied Languages, BA in Chinese programs, and all research-based postgraduate programs in modern languages.

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Up to 11 employees could be made redundant if the service closes

As part of plans to end modern language degrees, the university also wants to stop offering short in-person language courses and replace them with an online language learning platform.

In meetings with the university management, UCU was informed that this platform is likely to be the ‘Rosetta Stone’ app, available to anyone for £ 9.99 per month.

The UCU said the combined effect of these proposed changes would mean the language department would cease to exist from October 2023 and 11 staff would be made redundant.

UCU regional manager Julie Kelley said: “The University of Hull’s claims to have an international perspective are more than laughable as it plans to shut down an entire modern languages ​​department, replacing some courses with an online app that anyone can download to their phone for ten pounds.

“As it stands, the degrees in Chinese, French, Russian, German, Italian, Spanish, Translation and English will all fit, as will the expert lecturers who award them. It is a blatant act of vandalism that staff are determined to prevent.

Hull’s leadership is also due to reinstate UCU branch president Keith Butler, who was sacked after 22 years working for the university in an attempt to weaken opposition to closed classes and dismissals.

“UCU will not allow the university to trash its modern languages ​​department, interfere with student choice or lay off hard-working staff. University management must re-read their own corporate strategy and put an end to these vicious cuts. If not, we will continue to vote for strike action. “

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In the text of the university’s corporate strategy, it describes itself as an “inclusive, supportive and responsible community” which “will allow talented individuals to flourish”.

The UCU says that a few days before Hull confirmed that he wanted to close the department and the linguistic offer, he also sacked his branch president of the UCU who has worked for the university for 22 years.

The UCU says that despite its efforts to prevent its students from obtaining degrees in Chinese, French, Russian, German, Italian, Spanish, translation and English, the University of Hull still describes itself as a “center of light. and culture ‘with a’ global perspective ‘that aims to bring together international’ communities’ in an ‘increasingly connected but polarized world’.

More than 450 staff members are voted to take industrial action to force the university to end its language cuts and reinstate UCU as branch president.

University of Hull students celebrate their graduation ceremony at Queen Victoria Square, Hull.
UCU challenges the university’s claims to be a “center of light and culture” with a “global perspective”

A modern language graduate said: “I think it’s a closed way of looking at college education.

“At a time when the world is becoming increasingly isolated and cut off with Brexit and Covid, we should be encouraging people to learn to communicate without reducing opportunities.

“Trying to move short courses to the app is just misguided, it’s not the best way to learn languages ​​anyway and they already have the teaching staff in place.”

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A spokesperson for the University of Hull said, “As with all universities, the University of Hull is constantly reviewing its programs to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our applicants, students and employers..

“We are currently examining the offer of modern languages ​​at the University, including new opportunities to study languages ​​for a much larger number of students. A consultation process is underway, involving a wide range of stakeholders.

“The University is committed to taking all reasonable steps, in consultation with campus unions, to avoid and mitigate layoffs to the extent possible.”

Sylvester L. Goldfarb

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