FOR YOUR INFORMATION
The Welsh student language movement: a chronology

9 May 2004: Students block traffic for a day

Over 100 students at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, protested this week to demand more classes in the Welsh language. They blocked traffic in the town and staged a protest march through the town to the Old College. The mass action is the latest in a year-long protest campaign for their rights, and a reflection of a global movement for rights to one's own language.

In this timeline compiled by Shunpiking Online, we are highlighting for the information of our readers some of the main features of the students' initiative and their just demands, compiled from reports on BBC Wales.

9 February 2004: Sit-down protest disrupts traffic

Students in Aberystwyth stepped up their campaign for improved Welsh language provision.

More than 100 members of Welsh language student union -- UMCA -- staged a sit down protest across the main entrance to University of Wales Aberystwyth, disrupting rush-hour traffic. They succeeded in stopping traffic from entering the university campus for most of the day.

The protest was over what students claim is a lack of Welsh language education provision.

"It's about time the University shows its support for a Welsh-language federal college." said Catrin Dafydd, President of UMCA.

"This is the only answer that will give the Welsh language stability in the higher education sector.

Unfair treatment

"It is vital that funding is allocated for postgraduate courses through the medium of Welsh, to ensure a supply of lecturers in the future."

Students claim a lack of Welsh speaking administrative staff should be addressed by the university.

They also claim that posters, general correspondence and adverts are either monolingual or have English put on top of Welsh.

"At the moment, Welsh-speaking students are being treated unfairly," said Osian Rhys, Welsh language officer at the student guild.

"Education through the medium of Welsh here is very patchy and is minute in comparison to what is available in English.

"Even this bare provision is often dependent upon a few individuals who are willing to make an extra effort to provide it.

"Students will not give up until there has been a fundamental change.

Students claim the Welsh language must be given a central place in the higher education sector, and a Welsh-language federal college is the only solution.

A University of Wales spokesman said the institution had no comment to make.

4 December 2003: Language protest at Aberystwyth

Students in Aberystwyth stepped up their campaign for improved Welsh language provision by collecting complaints of "poor service". More than 250 members of Welsh language student union -- UMCA -- marched through the streets of the seaside town on Thursday before handing in 500 written complaints at the University's headquarters in the Old College.

The collected individual complaints follows a request by senior officials at the University to see individual cases of the perceived lack of provision.

The protest follows two weeks after a similar demonstration during a visit by Welsh assembly minister Jane Davidson to Aberystwyth.

"Prospective students are under the impression they will be able to study wholly through the medium of Welsh when they arrive at Aberystwyth in the first year," said UMCA President Catrin Dafydd.

Lack of staff

"Some departments behave as if they haven't ever heard of Wales by offering next to nothing through the medium of Welsh and refusing to correspond in Welsh with students who have asked them to do so.

"A number of modules are offered through the medium of Welsh in the prospectus, but as the term progresses students often find those modules are not taught wholly in Welsh."

Students claim a lack of Welsh speaking administrative staff should be addressed by the university.

Osian Rhys, the Guild of Student's Welsh Language Officer said: "In some cases, Welsh speaking lecturers are obliged to teach in English knowing that 70% of the students are also Welsh speakers."

UMCA believes the University needs to improve its attitude towards Welsh.

"The University could do much more with the money it has to provide Welsh language provision and it also needs to improve its staff's attitude towards the Welsh language."

13 November 2003: Students protest as minister visits

Students in Aberystwyth targeted the visit of the assembly education minister for their latest protest over Welsh-language provision.

More than 200 members of the university's Guild of Students and Welsh language student union -- UMCA -- marched on a meeting between the minister Jane Davidson and the university council.

The protest was over what students claim is a lack of Welsh language education provision at universities in Wales. They were also demonstrating about the UK government's plans to introduce top-up fees for university courses.

"This is a crisis situation. It's about time that the Welsh Assembly Government realise that students will not accept discrimination,"said Catrin Dafydd, UMCA's president.

Portfolios

"Regardless that she promises not to introduce top-up fees in Wales in 2006, if this policy goes ahead in England there is no guarantee that top-up fees will not be introduced in Wales."

In a statement Ms Davidson said she had always been clear the she was committed to working to make bilingualism a reality in Wales.

She said that £1.23m for Welsh medium provision had been provided to institutions this year.

Under this provision, £222,500 has also been allocated to higher education establishments at Aberystwyth, Bangor and Carmarthen.

"This money is for them to take a planned approach to expanding their Welsh medium portfolios and recruitment and to explore the potential for collaborative developments," she said.

Last month students blocked the entrance to the university in a demonstration over the lack of Welsh language teaching.

13 November 2003: Students protest as minister visits

Students in Aberystwyth have targeted the visit of the assembly education minister for their latest protest over Welsh-language provision.

More than 200 members of the university's Guild of Students and Welsh language student union -- UMCA -- marched on a meeting between the minister Jane Davidson and the university council.

The protest on Thursday was over what students claim is a lack of Welsh language education provision at universities in Wales.

They were also demonstrating about the UK government's plans to introduce top-up fees for university courses.

"This is a crisis situation. It's about time that the Welsh Assembly Government realise that students will not accept discrimination,"said Catrin Dafydd, UMCA's president.

Portfolios

"Regardless that she promises not to introduce top-up fees in Wales in 2006, if this policy goes ahead in England there is no guarantee that top-up fees will not be introduced in Wales."

In a statement Ms Davidson said she had always been clear the she was committed to working to make bilingualism a reality in Wales.

Of about £1.23m for Welsh medium provision had been provided to institutions this year, only £222,500 has also been allocated to higher education establishments at Aberystwyth, Bangor and Carmarthen.

"This money is for them to take a planned approach to expanding their Welsh medium portfolios and recruitment and to explore the potential for collaborative developments," she said.

Last month students blocked the entrance to the university in a demonstration over the lack of Welsh language teaching.

20 October 2003: Student protest on Welsh lectures

More than 200 students blocked the entrance to a university in mid Wales protesting over the lack of Welsh language teaching there.

Early morning rush hour traffic travelling towards the University of Wales, Aberystwyth campus' main entrance had to be diverted to another entrance by police while students staged a sit-in on the road.

The protest was held to draw attention to what the students claim is a lack of Welsh language education provision at Aberystwyth and an all-Wales strategy for the language.

After staging the sit-in for half an hour, the students marched to their student union building -- Pantycelyn Hall -- further down Penglais Hill.

The Welsh language student union, UMCA, is calling for a federal college for the language which it claims would make the University of Wales -- of which Aberystwyth is a part -- improve education provision in the language.

UMCA claims the language cannot continue to exist within the college if students are expected to rely on the goodwill of university departments.

Students believe that the practice of bilingual lecturers providing courses in Welsh only if they want to should be replaced by a more structured framework.

UMCA President, Catrin Dafydd said that modules are being deleted at the whim of individual lecturers and departments.

"Students have had enough. We will not suffer this injustice in our own country," she added.

Priority

Osian Rhys, Welsh Language Officer of the Guild of Students, said: "Enough is enough. We have been calling for proper provision for years and the situation is still pitiful."

Education Minister Jane Davidson said a Welsh federal college was a long-term target -- but not until 2010 at the earliest.

However, she said the Welsh Assembly Government has not yet accepted that there was even a need for such an institution.

Even if a federal college was a priority, there was not enough staff available at moment, said the minister.

The assembly is currently looking at the training issue which they aim to address that by 2005.

University of Wales' vice-chancellor, Derec Llwyd Morgan, said he had for a long time asked the student's officers to bring their complaints to him first rather than to the media.

June 2003: Fears over department's future

A student union has accused a university of slashing Welsh language teaching resources.

It has been announced that the University of Wales, Aberystwyth will not appoint another lecturer to replace Professor John Rowlands, who retires from his post at the Welsh department this summer.

The university's Welsh Students Union, UMCA, claims this will mean the department will be unable to organise a course in Modern Wales Studies next year.

The row has broken out two weeks after it was revealed that Prince William may come to Aberystwyth to study Welsh when he finishes his first degree.

The University's Vice Chancellor and Principal, Derec Llwyd Morgan, welcomed the possibility of attracting the prince, who is second in line to the throne, to Aberystwyth.

Prince Charles studied Welsh at the university before his investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969.

But UMCA says the principal should not be so enthusiastic about the prospect of the prince's stay if the Welsh department faces cut-backs.

Status eroded

"The Welsh department is losing out even though there will be a 26% increase in students coming here to study in September," said Catrin Dafydd, UMCA president.

"Obviously this means that current students and the department itself are angry at this decision."

Ms Dafydd added that not enough subjects were taught through the medium of Welsh at the university's other departments.

"There is an increasing restlessness among students because there aren't enough modules being taught in Welsh," she said.

UMCA also claims the status of the Welsh language is being eroded at the university and that the college is not sticking to its language plan.

"An extra clause was recently inserted in the plan stating that Welsh language provision would not be reduced," said Ms Dafydd.

"The university has made a hollow promise to the Welsh department and the university's students."

Prof Llwyd Morgan refused to comment about the changes.

"I am sure you will understand that I cannot talk about individual posts in public," he said.

Compiled from BBC reports


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