By Hannah Rowand

Four Senior Language Tutors (SLTs) in the School of Modern Languages have initiated an appeal against the University’s decision to make redundancies within the department.

As previously reported, SLTs Tanya Filosofova, Annette Zimmermann, Patrizia Sambuco and Carmen Garcia del Rio were informed that their posts were made redundant as of September 22, 2010.

The Student Representative Council (SRC) are in full support of the appeal and are urging students to help with the process by continuing to take part in the university-wide petition, in conjunction with the tutors’ Union, the UCU, which was launched last month during Freshers’ Week. Siena Parker, Director of Representation, who helped initiate the petition, believes that a substantial quantity of signatures may prove convincing to the University when they make a final decision on the future of the SLTs.

She is keen to stress that the petition replaces the one created during the summer as part of a Facebook campaign, and that some students would therefore have to sign again for their names to be counted.

This new petition, which is available to sign both on the SRC’s website and at the UCU’s stall in the Union, has so far collected a total of 400 signatures, but Parker hopes to reach – if not surpass – the 700 collected on the Facebook petition. The hope is to present the petition, which is a joint initiative by the SRC and the UCU, to the University at the end of Week 4.

Parker says, “We are very aware that this is a delicate matter and that a difficult decision had to be made. Nonetheless we wish to make sure that, as promised by the School, the measures taken in response to the current economic pressures do not adversely affect the quality of teaching.

“We have therefore requested that the University carry out a small-scale review to allow the University and the SRC to judge the impact of the loss of the tutors on teaching in their departments. This review will replace the main cyclical one, which has been postponed until 2012 as it was originally designed to evaluate how the department addressed its deficit while maintaining its full staff.”

A University official stated that, “The decision followed a  long period of notice and detailed consultation with the four staff concerned. All have now been offered voluntary redundancy packages and advised of re-employment opportunities elsewhere in the University.”

One third-year student who signed the petition expressed their concern over the redundancies: “I was personally gutted to hear about the redundancies going on within the department, especially since I wouldn’t hesitate to say I owe a lot to a few of the tutors for getting me through my degree so far. I believe it would put future students at a great disadvantage to not have the excellent teaching that I myself have had within the languages department.”

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