Online petition calling for Salford to reconsider Humanities closure

An online petition calling on Salford VC Martin Hall to reconsider the university’s decision to “disestablish” the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences is garnering widespread support.

From the petition:

Despite the continual stress that linguists enjoy greater employability, one of the country’s best established department of languages (University of Salford) is to close “to secure the future of the University” and ensure that the institution can “benefit students in areas that are in demand with employers.”

Although it seems there is a clash in what is now considered as a requisite from employers, “disestablishment” has been considered as the last resort and is reportedly due to “low levels in interest from applicants”. This could be due to a manner of reasons: tuition fee increase, culling of mandatory language learning at GSCE by Labour government, staff cutbacks in SOL to name a few.

As highlighted by Professor Myriam Salama-Carr in her statement to Vice Chancellor, Martin Hall, the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences should be merited for its ongoing achievements and keeping in line with what was once the University’s core mission.

If you wish to lend your support to the petition, please follow the link.

Open letter to Salford about proposed closure of MFL, translation and interpreting

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
Myriam Salama-Carr
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”.

News from the Higher Education Academy

HEA_LLASUpcoming events

Changing the Learning Landscape – social media in the Humanities, London, 15 May 2013

This workshop offers an opportunity for those involved in teaching, or directly managing degree programmes in the Humanities disciplines, to find out more about the role that social media can play in enhancing the student and tutor experience. Through a series of presentations, activities and discussions, led by academics from the Humanities discipline areas, participants will be introduced to social media approaches and see discipline-focused exemplars of social media applied in teaching practice.

Storyville: Exploring narratives of learning and teaching, Brighton, 29-30 May 2013

Booking is now open for the Arts and Humanities conference, Storyville, which seeks to explore the intersections between narrative and learning and teaching. Places are already going fast, so book early to avoid disappointment. For more information including the conference programme visit the conference website.

HEA Annual Conference, Powerful partnerships: defining the learning experience, University of Warwick, 3-4 July 2013

These partnerships are multifaceted and we address this at the conference within three strands: students; employers; and organisations as partners. This conference will develop our understanding of how partnerships affect the student experience and educational outcome, and also benefit society as a whole. These partnerships are multifaceted and we address this at the conference within three strands: students; employers; and organisations as partners.

Publications and Funding opportunities

Just published: Engaging home and international students: a guide for new lecturers, Dr Rachel Scudamore

A new guide published by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) is aimed at those who are new to teaching in UK higher education (HE) and who work with diverse groups of students. Engaging home and international students: a guide for new lecturers, written by Dr Rachel Scudamore, Head of Teaching Enhancement at the University of Nottingham, features techniques for engaging international and home students in a range of contexts.

UK Travel Fund 2012-2013: Call open

The UK Travel Grants Scheme provides funds for staff and students to engage in activities that will support the development of teaching and learning practice by contributing to travel, accommodation, subsistence and event fees that will be incurred. Applications will be accepted until 30 June 2013.

Discipline Workshop and Seminar Series 2012-13: Upcoming Events

The internationalisation of Spanish: teaching applications and the role of translation, Swansea University, 22 March 2013

This workshop will explore the applications of state of the art language and translation tools (online, electronic and interactive) to the teaching of Spanish as a foreign language.

Engaging with local ethnic and linguistic communities: a one-day workshop sponsored by Multilingual Manchester and the Higher Education Academy, University of Manchester, 26 March 2013

The workshop will focus on ways to promote active engagement with ethnic and linguistic minorities through higher education teaching by discussing examples of individual course modules.

Student peer mentoring in the Arts and Humanities, University of Nottingham, 5 April 2013

The purpose of this event is to consider different approaches to peer mentoring and tutoring, and to look at a range of models implementing mentoring schemes in the Arts and Humanities. Mentoring is widely recognised as a key initiative in enhancing and enriching the student experience, and this workshop seeks to look at concrete models of peer mentoring in practice. Participants have either experience of peer mentoring themselves, or are interested in setting up similar schemes. Student mentors will contribute a workshop to the event.

Early career interdisciplinary conference (EPIC), University of Liverpool, 8-10 April 2013

The HEA is pleased to be sponsoring the ‘Early career interdisciplinary conference’ open to postgraduate students and university lecturers within the first five years of their appointment and designed for early professionals in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

Something to talk about: integrating content and language study in higher education, Aston University, 11 June 2013

11 Jun 2013 (Free, but registration required)

This workshop draws on international research to outline the benefits of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in MFL degrees in UK higher education. It provides a platform for sharing practice in subject-specific content teaching through the target language and discussing implications for curriculum design and teacher training.

Book now: Eliciting data in second language research: challenge and innovation, University of York, 2-3 September 2013

This two-day series of invited talks and poster presentations will bring together researchers working across diverse areas of second language studies. Delegates will learn more about the IRIS project, a fast-growing open access digital repository of data collection materials used in SLA research. Abstracts for posters may be submitted until Friday 26 April.”

Australia: literacy deficit in undergraduates threatens knowledge economy

IlliteracyIn a passionate commentary published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, an Australian researcher draws attention to a worrying literary deficit among undergraduate students. Dr Russell Marks, Honorary Research Associate in the School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University, claims that, despite numerous educational reforms and the high test scores required for entry to Higher Education, “a majority of 18-year-olds who enrol in most first-year humanities subjects are  unable to reliably construct a simple sentence”.

While teaching higher-level analytical skills such as critical analysis of discursive structures and academic essay writing skills are the bread and butter of academic teaching, many university tutors “are spending precious time giving crash-courses in English grammar instead of  leading discussions about the topics at hand”.

He warns that the school system’s failure to provide students with basic literacy skills puts at risk an increasingly knowledge-based economy and deprives individuals of the tools to participate fully as citizens and workers.

Read the article ‘Time to declare war on illiteracy’ to find out more.


10 Corporations That Have a Major Hand in US Higher Education

Many international corporations maintain close ties with universities on multiple levels – publishers maintain bookshops, food service companies provide food courts, pharmaceutical firms conduct research, etc.

The Online Colleges Blog has compiled a list of the 10 biggest corporations with close corporate contracts with US universities.

Click here to view the full list.


Call for contributions: e-Learning symposium 2013

LLAS Centre for Languages, Linguistics, and Area Studies will hold their 8th annual elearning symposium on 24/5th January, 2013. They are now calling for abstracts for presentations, workshops or posters (no more than 400 words) to be submitted by 5th October, 2012.

LLAS are looking for presentations on innovative uses of technology in delivering teaching content or assessments, the use of social networking sites, virtual worlds or mobile technology with language students, and new engaging ways of involving students in the creation or use of open educational resources. Topics may include but are not limited to, the use in teaching or research of:

  • social networking sites
  • mobile technology
  • blogs or wikis
  • open educational resources
  • virtual worlds, such as Second Life
  • virtual learning environments
  • online tools or courses
  • innovative online learning designs or environments
  • autonomous learning
  • blended learning
  • social media, e.g. micro-blogging (e.g. Twitter)
  • student-generated digital content

For more information, go to the conference page.

LLAS Languages in Higher Education conference – a look back

On July 5-6, 2012, the 6th biennial LLAS conference entitled ‘Language Futures: Languages in Higher Education’ took place in Edinburgh. The rich conference programme included plenaries from distinguished scholars and policy makers such as Prof Jim Coleman (Open University, chair of University Council of Modern Languages UCML; click here to download his presentation slides), Prof Rosamond Mitchell (University of Southampton), Prof Colin Riordan (University of Essex) and Prof James Foreman-Peck (Cardiff University), alongside two days of paper sessions from UK and European researchers and practitioners working in Higher Education. The key note speeches gave an excellent overview of the status quo – and the future – of MFL teaching and learning in the UK and the plenary discussions contributed to a wider understanding of the challenges which universities are facing in relation to national educational trends.

The themes of the conference focussed on employability, the value of the year abroad experience, internationalisation and MFL for non-specialists, among others. A wide range of papers and presentations offered insight into current practice and innovative solutions at a wide range of HE institutions in the UK and elsewhere. For a full list of the papers presented, go to the conference website to download the programme. 

Two members of CLERA presented papers at the conference: Dr Claudia Gremler presented findings from a project on video production in the language classroom (read a good practice report on her project on the HEA website), and Elisabeth Wielander talked about content teaching in the target language, presenting some of the findings of her on-going PhD project investigating CLIL in UK Higher Education. A number of delegates from UK universities expressed their interest in CLIL and their institutions’ intention to expand target-language delivery in undergraduate MFL programmes, which opens possible avenues for future cooperation and dissemination of these findings. Both papers sparked lively Q&A sessions which provided valuable feedback and led to stimulating discussions with other researchers, and both conference papers will be revised and submitted for publication in the future.

New IIE report on English-taught Master’s programmes in Europe

The Institute of International Education’s Centre for Academic Mobility Research has published a new report investigating ‘English-Taught Master’s Programs in Europe: New Findings on Supply and Demand’.

This briefing paper ‘provides a detailed, data-drive look at the burgeoning growth of English-taught master’s programs in Europe’. The authors ‘examine the growth of English-taught master’s programs in Europe, including the total number of programs offered by country and academic discipline, their duration, and data on prospective students’.

Click here to view the report.

US study confirms: International students struggle to make friends

A new US study confirms what many in Higher Education have observed for some time, both in the UK and elsewhere:

Many international students find it difficult to make friends in their host countries and even at their host institutions. Elisabeth Gareis, Ed.D., associate professor of communication studies at Baruch College/City University of New York, investigated the study abroad experience of international students in southern and north-eastern US states. The study shows that 40% of students report having no close American friends and would like to have more interaction with their US peers. The number of relationships built with US citizens varies depending on the host region and on the home region of the international students: Those studying in southern states stated they had more, and more satisfying, friendships that those attending universities in the Northeast. Students from East Asia were least satisfied with the number and quality of friendships established during their study abroad.

To find out more, go here.