A protest against cuts being forced upon the languages and humanities department is being arranged following an article in Friday's issue of felix. The protest, to take place on the 3rd of June will see students gather outside the Faculty Building waving international flags to symbolise the importance of a multi-linguistic scientific community and Imperial's role in ensuring our Graduates gain these vital communication skills.
The cuts will see 60% of foreign language classes offered to undergraduates disappear by 2010 with no students able to start a new language from the 2010 academic year. There will be no classes for credit in Japanese, Italian, Russian or Arabic with the most popluar languages (Mandarin, German, French and Spanish), only continuing at higher levels.
Prior to Friday's issue of Felix, Staff of the Humanities Department sent an email to past and present students on languages courses urging them to make their voices heard if they objected to the cuts being made. The email, sent from a humanities-temp account, was signed off 'The languages staff in Humanities' and read:
"As you will all know, foreign language proficiency is of the greatest importance to scientists and engineers today working in an international context.
If you have benefitted from learning a language here and wish to help preserve the Languages Programme for yourselves or for future students, please make your views known - to your own Department, to the Department of Humanities, to senior members of the College or to the Rector. Sign a petition! Urge your parents to write to the Rector too if they're concerned about language learning."
A Petition, which at the time of writing had been signed by over 200 students, is available on google documents and requires just a name and CID number. The signatories are putting their name to the following 'beliefs' which show their strong support for the furtherance of the Languages and Humanities options:
"As students of Imperial College, we feel that these courses are important because;
- Employers like well rounded applicants, who demonstrate ability and interest outside their degree.
- Humanities are one of the few opportunities for mixing all years and different departments.
- It allows Year in Europe students to go to all countries, regardless of their choices at A level and GCSE.
- Several people chose Imperial because of the opportunities to learn foreign language and study for a year in Europe.
- The evening classes are only 1.5 hours a week in one go, so are not really a substitute for three separate hour long lessons. As well as charging, the evening classes can only be taken as an additional course on top of a full degree for no credit."
Speaking to Live!, Yean Chooi, a third year Bioengineer expressed his concern that the limitation of humanities options would be extremely damaging given that they are a compulsary part of many undergraduate courses. The decision to cut back on the breadth and level of topics that students can opt for could see students losing out academically aswell as on an extra-curricular basis. A likely outcome could be that the compulsary humanities modules begin to disappear from otherwise singularly technical degrees causing further set-backs for the Humanities Department as well as being to the detriment of the quality of education offered at Imperial. Furthermore, Chris Thomas, a final year Physicist added: "having taken language courses for two years before taking a year abroad, I think they were the most interesting, and directly useful, of all the courses I took at IC, not to mention a lot more culturally enriching. I don't know about the evening classes, but the lunchtime language classes really are good, excellently taught, very thorough and best of all free to take, even for non-credit... I don't know how chuffed those departments that do a lot of European exchanges will be, CivEng and Physics both send students to Italy for instance; I guess they won't after 2010... It just seems like a massive massive shame that College appears to be culling yet another few of the things that makes it more liveable and enriching to the non-purely geek population."
The cuts don't just affect language options, but also include the majority of other humanities modules including Modern Literature and Drama and Music in Western Civilisation. Following years of building an extensive and celebrated humanities offering, along with housing this department in a specially renovated space on the fourth floor of the Sherfield Building, Imperial is rapidly back-pedalling on it's previous encouragment of what was considered 'important contributions to your general education'.
If you are interested in joining the protest, you can find out more on the Facebook Group or contact the organisers: Daniel Burrows and Ossain Hynes. Also don't forget to Sign the Petition! Additionally, leave your comments and messages for the 'powers that be' below and Live! will pass them on for you!