By Andreea Nemes
Two petitions led by the Students’ Association and the University and College Union (UCU) have been launched against the redundancies of four Senior Language Tutors (SLTs) in the School of Modern Languages.
SLTs Tanya Filosofova, Annette Zimmermann, Patrizia Sambuco and Carmen Garcia del Rio were informed over the summer that their positions were at risk of redundancy. It was recently announced that their posts were made redundant as of 22 September 2010. Three of the SLTs are members the UCU, a union that represents more than 120,000 academics around the UK. As a result, collective action was taken by the UCU to campaign against the redundancies.
A student petition was organised by the Students’ Association after concerns were raised that the quality of teaching and learning in the School would be affected.
Student support has been widespread, especially from Modern Language students. A Facebook group set up in defence of the SLTs states that “the abolition of the post of Senior Language Tutor is an utterly ridiculous and thoroughly misguided suggestion.”
It also argues that the SLTs are “without a doubt, invaluable to the language learning experience offered to students by the University.”
A University official stated that “ the University regrets that redundancies were necessary, but is satisfied that the School and its academic staff will continue to provide students with expert language tuition to a very high standard. In this case, redundancies were unavoidable as a consequence of a serious and unsustainable financial position reported by the School. The School’s financial position will now improve and it is hoped return to viability through this and other efforts being made across the School in all areas of its activity.”
Director of Representation Siena Parker stated “I understand this is a result of a difficult financial situation, but cutting dedicated teaching staff is not the best way forward.”
SRC member Emma Weir, who was encouraging students to sign the petition argued that “It is important to take a stand because this could happen in other schools as well. We can’t back down and let decisions be made without student consultation.”