Students at NUI Galway are protesting against a decision to remove fluency in the Irish language as a requirement for the next President of the University.
The decision was undertaken by NUIG’s governing authority, Údarás na hOllscoile, and was proposed in order to widen the scope of applicants who could apply. According to Students’ Union President, Jimmy Mc Govern, the University plans to advertise the job in countries all over the world.
The current President of NUIG, Dr Jim Browne is due to resign in January 2018.
The decision has been met with strong opposition from students and their elected SU representatives. A céilí in protest of the change was held at the University’s gates last week, which drew support from approximately 50 people.
According to Mc Govern, further protests are planned in hopes of reversing the decision.
“I believe the outcome of these protests will demonstrate the importance and sensitivity around this issue, and that the candidates considering to apply for the position of President will know that they will have to make every effort to respect and preserve the University’s lifelong dedication to one of its core values, Gaeilge,” he said.
The SU President also stated that NUIG is the only bi-lingual university in Ireland and it is the Union’s stance that the decision will negatively impact the role of heritage and culture at the University.
He also believes it could affect incoming students’ perception of NUIG.
“I would fear for the future growth of the language,” he said.
“Many students who come to NUI Galway to learn Irish do so because of NUI Galway’s current devotion to the language. I fear that this will deter future students from specifically choosing NUI Galway to study Gaeilge, if they believe Gaeilge is not as valued as it once was.”
Image Credit: NUIGalway.ie