February 2011 protest against cuts to Modern Languages. (photo: Sean Anderson)

Glasgow University Court will be asked to review its decision to close the Slavonic Studies program, after professors from Glasgow University’s own Law School expressed the view that the move may be unlawful.

Dr Aileen McHarg and Professor Tom Mullen, specialists in administrative law, wrote to the Convener of Court, the Principal and the Clerk of Senate in June stating that in their belief the Court had acted beyond its powers. It is their contention that the Universities (Scotland) Act 1966, clearly states that amendments to degree regulations can only be carried out on the recommendation of Senate. Despite the university Senate strongly expressing the view that the course should be retained, Court overlooked this recommendation and elected to abolish Slavonic Studies.

Over the course of the summer, McHarg and Mullen exchanged further letters with David Newall (Secretary of Court) and the University sought external legal advice on the matter. Although Glasgow University management maintain that the decision was was lawful, Court will be asked to review its decision to withdraw Slavonic studies at its next meeting on the 12th of October. The lawyers have since been asked to write a further letter to David Newall explaining their reasoning in more depth.

Court’s decision to axe Slavonic Studies came after months of protest against proposals to close various courses within the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. The most extreme of which could have seen the abolition of German, Italian, Russian, Czech and Polish language programmes.

Honours degree programs in Czech and Polish were also abolished in 2010 without Senate consultation. It remains to be seen whether this move was also unlawful.



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