Scottish Minister for Higher and Further Education, Graeme Dey, has urged University of Aberdeen management to ‘reconsider’ its stance to not have student representation at the heart of its controversial consultation on modern languages.

Backed by more than 30 MSPs a motion, which highlighted the widespread support for languages teaching at the University, prompted the minister to call for student representation on the consultation steering group and to ensure that all credible alternatives have been ‘fully’ explored before moving to axe jobs.

To Parliament last Tuesday, Dey’s is on record as saying: “My expectation is that compulsory redundancies should be considered only as a last resort, after all other cost-saving measures have been fully explored.”

The minister went on to say: “I was concerned to learn that the steering group that is leading on the matter contains no student representation. Further, I understand that staff representation from the impacted faculty is only marginally better.

“I will therefore ask the University of Aberdeen to reconsider that stance, because it is important that all views are heard, and that maximum transparency is at play around decisions that are as impactful as the ones that we are talking about.

“I will also ask the university to reflect on whether all credible alternative options to the one that is now being pursued have been fully explored.”

Students’ Union Vice President for Education Rhiannon Ledwell, who met with Dey prior to the public debate, said: “I was incredibly encouraged to see how seriously the Scottish Parliament, and in particular the Minster for Higher Education, is taking the proposed cuts to languages at our university.

“There has been a lack of transparency from the beginning – and there is still no consensus on the disputed data on which this rushed consultation is based.

“University management must now heed these calls from the minister, stop, and ensure the consultation is done correctly, not quickly. Parliament, and indeed, all of Scotland, are watching."

"What the University decides over the next month could have devastating impacts for the University's reputation, language provisions in schools, and in particular the Gaelic community. These cuts fly in the face of the Government's Scottish Language bill passed only a few months ago – and cannot be allowed to go ahead in their current form."

A University of Aberdeen spokesperson said: “Intensive work is underway to redesign the University’s degree programmes in Modern Languages with support from senior sector leaders in Modern Languages, to ensure that they are attractive to students and cost effective to deliver, and that staffing numbers are aligned with student numbers and income. Proposals are also being developed to enhance the opportunities for all students at the University to begin or continue to learn languages. The consultation on the future provision of Modern Languages has been extended to the middle of February and final proposals will be considered by the University Court at the end of the month.”

A group of students and alumni travelled to the capital to make their voices heard outside of Parliament, and to watch the debate from the public gallery. Visit for more information, or to get involved in campaigning.

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