Fiona Dunn: University will spread the word – in Gaelic of course

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THE University of Glasgow will today launch its first Gaelic Language Plan outlining how it intends to develop Gaelic language and culture across the campus within its day-to-day operations over the next five years.

The plan has been prepared in the spirit of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, which aspires to secure the status of Gaelic as an official language of Scotland.

The launch of this important document does not, however, mark the beginning of Gaelic provision at Glasgow, but instead builds upon more than a century of Gaelic language teaching and research.

Gaelic was first taught at the University of Glasgow in the 19th century to divinity students and was followed by the appointment in 1901 of the first lecturer in Celtic, Magnus MacLean, a Skye man and professor of electrical engineering.

Today, in 2013, the university offers a range of both undergraduate and postgraduate level courses in the language. It has established the first and only UK-based chair of Gaelic and was the first university in Scotland to appoint a Gaelic language officer in 2009.

Given the ongoing revitalisation of Gaelic nationally and particularly in Glasgow itself, the launch of the university’s Gaelic Plan is very timely.

In the coming year, Glasgow City Council will launch its second Gaelic Plan and in 2015, will open a second Gaelic-medium education facility in the south of the city.

Over the next five years, university staff and students will be more exposed to Gaelic language and culture through the work of the plan which aims to increase the presence of Gaelic within four key commitment areas: communications, staffing, publications and identity. In addition, the university has developed a fifth commitment area, student experience, which will build upon the work of the university’s Gaelic language initiative creating real opportunities for students to engage with the language and its culture regardless of their chosen academic discipline.

• Fiona Dunn is Gaelic language officer at the University of Glasgow