Alarm raised over modern language cuts at Manchester University | Education

Planned staffing cuts that will hit modern languages teaching and research at Britain’s largest university should be scrapped, a group of senior academics have warned in a letter to the Guardian.

The plan to shed as many as 35 jobs from the University of Manchester’s school of arts – a third of its strength – would do harm to the UK in the long run, they said. It is part of a move to cut more than 100 academic and professional support roles.

“A proposal to shed linguists and cross-cultural experts is clearly against the best interests of the UK, now more than ever as we face the economic and societal complexities of leaving the EU,” 15 senior representatives for modern languages in the UK wrote.

“If it pushes through its plans regardless, the University of Manchester will in the medium and longer term do the UK a great disservice. In the short term, it will send a powerful and ill-timed signal about the perception of the value of European languages and cultures.”

Earlier this month, it emerged that the university planned to cut 171 jobs across the faculties of arts, languages, biology, medicine and business. It said it needed to invest in other priorities and blamed global competition and cuts to funding, among other factors, for its decision.

But critics accused the institution of simply seeking excuses to cut staffing levels. The University and College Union (UCU), which represents lecturers and researchers, said it saw “no economic rationale for job cuts on such an enormous scale”. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, Manchester University recorded a £59.7m surplus for 2015-16, after a £19.6m deficit the year before. It also holds reserves of nearly £1.5bn, including £430m in cash.

The signatories to the letter added: “It is worth recalling that over £3m has been awarded to Manchester precisely to support and encourage research in modern languages from 2016-2020.” They said that there was a false perception that…

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