The following statement regarding the proposed closure of the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences at the University of Salford is currently being circulated. It clearly highlights why this decision is both short-sighted and likely to be very damaging to the reputation of the university:
The University of Salford is proposing to ‘disestablish’ its School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences, and close down its language, linguistics, translation and interpreting degree provision, on UG and PG level, over the next few years. Staff and students in the School are informed that the activities carried out in languages, linguistics, translation and interpreting do not fit with the University’s new strategy and mission, and that closure is necessary to ensure financial sustainability at institutional level. Regardless of the impact of such cuts on the institution as a whole, which seems to be moving away from what should be the core mission of a University, the proposal is a blow to the achievements of the language and translation and interpreting community over the last few decades.
The University of Salford has a 40 year old track record of teaching applied languages. Its postgraduate programmes in translation and interpreting, which are now part of the prestigious European Masters in Translation’s Network, were first set up in the early 1980s and the growing network of alumni are playing a key role in the translation and interpreting profession. With an annual average of 65 postgraduate students on its translation and interpreting programme and a vibrant community of research students in the field (20 students are currently enrolled on doctoral programme, and Salford PhD holders are in academic posts in a number of institutions in the UK and abroad), the School has been active in various translation and interpreting related initiatives. The University of Salford is currently leading the Routes into Languages National Network for Translation and is a partner in the Routes’ National Network for Interpreting.
At a national and European level, the proposed closure represents a step backwards and a short-sighted initiative at a time when the UK government recognises the need to protect languages – an indispensable asset for any professional in an increasingly globalised world.
The University proclaims its commitment to Internationalisation as part of its Teaching and Learning strategy. With the closure of Languages, it is difficult to see how this strategic goal can be met in any serious way. With the removal of the Languages programmes and strong links to international areas these provide, the university’s claims to be an international institution will greatly diminish. The strong reputation of Languages programmes in the Middle East has influenced recruitment to programmes across the University. Following the damage done by these moves international recruitment is likely to suffer.
Past and current students, staff and key players in Modern Foreign Languages, Linguistics and Translation and Interpreting strongly condemned the proposals for the disestablishment of the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences.
We ask that the University reconsiders the decision as a matter of urgency and looks actively for ways to retain Languages within a strategy aimed at preparing students for a globalised labour market and society.
Today we are calling on you for support and would like to encourage you to send letters condemning these proposals to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Martin Hall. In closing, may we express our gratitude and appreciation of the many messages of support which have been received by individual colleagues.
On behalf of colleagues in the Directorate of Languages, and the Centre for Translation and Interpreting
Professor of Translation Studies
(reposted with permission of the author)
The following are just some of the reactions to the proposed ‘disestablishment’ at Salford:
University of Salford student Paul Hambling is “Left speechless” and calls the decision “a grave mistake” in this letter published in THE. He has also written about this issue on his blog, Languages from a student’s point of view.
In this blog post, a Salford insider explains how Salford came to be in this precarious situation and voices faint hopes for the future. He has now published a follow-up post, reporting on the latest developments.
The Chairman of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), Iwan Davies, has written to the Vice Chancellor of Salford “to register the Institute’s deeply held concern regarding the proposed closure”.
Greater Manchester MP Matthew Gwynne is “deeply saddened” by the decision; if plans go through, he “can only mourn the future of our country”.