With the Royal National Mod – the largest festival of Gaelic arts and culture – in full swing in Inverness, the University of the Highlands and Islands has today (Tuesday 14 October) launched its second Gaelic Language Plan.
The document sets out the university’s strategy for continuing to promote and develop the use of Gaelic through its practices, curriculum and communications until 2018. Proposals include producing more bilingual resources, encouraging staff to learn Gaelic as part of their development plans and holding more Gaelic events.
The organisation was the first higher education institution to produce a Gaelic Language Plan in 2010. Its first plan helped to increase the amount of Gaelic the university uses in services to students, staff and the public and to widen the Gaelic medium and Gaelic language learning opportunities it provides. A professional graduate diploma in (primary) education, which includes an option for people to train as Gaelic medium primary teachers, is just one of the university’s new Gaelic-related courses.
Staff hope the latest plan will help the university to build on these achievements. The new strategy includes a dedicated student experience section, which recognises the importance of delivering student services in Gaelic. Commitments include increasing the amount of student web content available in Gaelic, running Gaelic careers events and providing feedback mechanisms in Gaelic.
Professor Clive Mulholland, University of the Highlands and Islands principal and vice-chancellor explained the importance of the plan: “As the only university based in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, we are intensely aware of our responsibilities to enhance the use and status of Gaelic. While we are proud of our achievements to date, we also are keen to build on these successes. This new plan demonstrates the university’s continuing commitment to the development and enhancement of Gaelic.”
Scott McNally, who represented students in the development of the plan and is currently studying for an MSc in material culture and Gàidhealtachd history with the university, said: “This plan will be hugely beneficial to students who wish to learn Gaelic or to use Gaelic from day to day. There are Gaelic speaking students and those with an interest in Gaelic throughout the Highlands and it’s very important that the university is recognising its role in the revitalisation of the language.”
Bòrd na Gàidhlig Ceannard (CEO), John Angus MacKay, said: “The University of the Highlands and Islands has a significant role to play in encouraging the learning and use of the Gaelic language on an everyday basis. We welcome the university’s second Language Gaelic Plan which builds upon the successes of their first plan and continues to enhance Gaelic language learning throughout the university’s widespread network.”
The University of the Highlands and Islands second Gaelic Language Plan has been prepared in line with statutory criteria set out in the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 and included public consultation. It was approved by the national Gaelic development agency, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, in September. The plan can be viewed and downloaded at www.uhi.ac.uk/gaelicplan