29/Jul/2014 - Last News Update: 00:40

Language group anger over Aberystwyth University head

Category: Wales

Published: 25th Jan 2011 16:38:43

A Welsh language campaign group has objected to the appointment of a non-Welsh speaking vice-chancellor of Aberystwyth University.

Prof April McMahon, who speaks French and German and some Scottish Gaelic, and is a vice-principal at Edinburgh University, has pledged to learn Welsh.

The Welsh Language Society said Aberystwyth's officials had "made a mockery" of their language policy.

Prof McMahon will succeed Prof Noel Lloyd on 1 August.

Prof McMahon's appointment to Aberystwyth, which has a high level of Welsh speakers, comes after another university, Bangor, controversially appointed a non-Welsh speaking vice-chancellor last year.

Aberystwyth's new vice-chancellor has a history of working in and leading linguistic departments.

She has good credentials, but Aberystwyth being in a Welsh language area, it's important to have some one with Welsh speaking skills”

For 12 years she taught at the department of linguistics at Cambridge University, where she was also a Fellow of Selwyn College, and was professor of English language and linguistics at the University of Sheffield from 2000 until 2004.

In 2005, she moved to Edinburgh University as Forbes professor of English language and head of the department of linguistics and English language.

Her talent for languages and her background in linguistics has impressed the Welsh Language Society, but its chair Menna Macreth said being able to speak Welsh was vital in such an important role.

She said: "She (Prof McMahon) has good credentials, but Aberystwyth being in a Welsh language area, it's important to have some one with Welsh-speaking skills.

"Aberystwyth University has made a mockery of its Welsh language scheme.

"Officials have said in their press release that Prof McMahon will learn Welsh and we welcome that, but the selection process has been handled badly and there have been complaints that students and staff have not been consulted."

Ms Macreth said it was encouraging that Prof McMahon was a multi-linguist, which showed she knew the "value of other languages".

This is a time of challenges and opportunities for universities and I look forward to working with staff and students to take the University into the next stage of its development”

Prof McMahon said she was delighted "with the prospect of leading Aberystwyth University and she looked forward "to working positively within a bilingual environment and to living and working in such a culturally vibrant part of Wales".

She added: "This is a time of challenges and opportunities for universities and I look forward to working with staff and students to take the University into the next stage of its development."

University president Sir Emyr Jones Parry, the UK's former ambassador to the United Nations, said: "Universities face a period of unprecedented change and I am particularly pleased that Aberystwyth has been able to attract a new leader of the calibre of Prof McMahon.

"She is a very worthy successor to Prof Noel Lloyd, and I look forward very much to working with her to develop a research led, internationally competitive University, which also fulfils its obligations, regionally and nationally."

But the Welsh language students union, Undeb Myfyrwyr Cymraeg Aberystwyth (UMCA), said it was "disappointed" the new vice-chancellor was not a Welsh speaker.

However, another student body, Aberystwyth Guild of Students, welcomed the appointment.

Source:
BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2011. Language group anger over Aberystwyth University head [Online] (Updated 25th Jan 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/125284/Language-group-anger-over-Aberystwyth-University-head [Accessed 29th Jul 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • Man Utd manager Louis van Gaal to bide time over new faces

    Louis van Gaal will not rush to make signings despite being forced to employ a wing-back system in his opening games as Manchester United boss.
  • Chicken factories given all-clear in hygiene audits

    Two poultry factories alleged to have committed hygiene breaches have been rated as "good" and "satisfactory" by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
  • County Armagh: Man dies in Bessbrook lake incident

    A man has died during a swimming incident at a lake in County Armagh.
  • The pre-nuptial agreement that can end a happy marriage

    In the Arab world, when a man gets married he makes a payment to his bride's family. However in parts of Yemen when a brother and sister from one family marry a brother and sister from another, dowries are often not paid - but this can have tragic consequences.
  • Police to place anti-piracy warning ads on illegal sites

    The City of London police has started placing banner advertisements on websites believed to be offering pirated content illegally.
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com