Keep Italian open at Flinders University!

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Keep Italian open at Flinders University!

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Com.It.Es South Australia started this petition to Flinders University and

Keep Italian open at Flinders University!

Com.It.Es South Australia (Committee For Italians Abroad) has started this petition to Prof. Colin Stirling, Vice-Chancellor and President of Flinders University, via

Italian Studies is being terminated at Flinders University “due to ongoing low student numbers”. The signatories resolutely ask Flinders University Vice Chancellor and President Prof. Stirling to reverse this proposal, considering that:

o   Over 1 million Australian citizens have an Italian background. Over 160.000 Italian citizens live in Australia;

o   Italian is the most common non-English language spoken in South Australian homes (29,106 speakers, data: 2016 Census). If implemented, the closing of Italian at Flinders University would inevitably cause negative reactions within the community;

o   Italian is the fourth most studied language in the world (source: 2019);

o   Italy is one of Australia’s major trading partners. Two-way goods and services trade between Australia and Italy are valued at $11.1 billion ($383 million in South Australia. Source: DFAT 2020);

o   Italy is a valuable source of foreign direct investment in Australia, totalling AU$4.5 billion in 2020 (source: 2021);

o   217 Italian companies have a direct and stable presence in Australia (Italian Trade Agency 2021);

o   Australian companies have major projects being developed in Italy.

Ø  Lendlease is the winning developer, with a 99 year concession of the former Milano World EXPO area. This zero-emission project is Lendlease’s largest outside of Australia on a global scale;

o   Several Italian companies have established business operations in South Australia in growing high-tech sectors such as aero spatial industry (Leonardo, SITAEL), home automation (Nice), and renewable energies (Enel).

o   Health and aged care are sectors where Italian speakers are urgently needed.

Ø  Culturally appropriate care is crucial, in these sensitive sectors where it is widely acknowledged the quality of service needs to improve;

o   The discipline of Italian Studies was established in South Australia at Flinders University 50 years ago with the support and funding of the Italian community via the Dante Alighieri Society of S.A., and has been taught since the 1980s at the University of Adelaide via the Flinders Languages Outreach Program. Good corporate citizenship (and community goodwill) would be enhanced by engaging with the community before such a drastic decision;

o   There are options to collaborate with the community in order to increase enrolment numbers in Italian, building on a potential of about 31,000 students (total number of students of Italian in South Australian primary and secondary schools in 2020). For instance, it could be possible to promote closer partnerships between university, schools and Italian enterprises;

o   “Low student numbers” is a partial and misleading interpretation of the actual facts: approximately 120 students were enrolled in Italian Language and Culture courses in Semester 1 and approximately 80 are enrolled in Semester 2 this year, either directly or cross-institutionally.

o   Many of the students served are majoring in other disciplines (Education, Business, International Studies, Law, and STEM disciplines), therefore Italian Studies is a strong contributor to boosting the interdisciplinary skills and employability of future graduates. Nevertheless, Italian Studies is the only discipline proposed for disestablishment;

o   The disestablishment of Italian at Flinders University would negatively affect the employability and skills of future teachers as well as the long-term teaching quality of Italian to a cohort of 31,000 students in South Australian primary and secondary schools;

o   The philantropic Cassamarca Foundation has contributed over AU$200,000 in the last 10 years to Flinders University to support teaching and research in Italian Studies;

o   The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is a regular financial supporter of Italian Studies at Flinders University;

o   The disestablishment of a foreign language in a Higher Education institution is a major loss for a proudly multicultural society like Australia.

o   The proposal to disestablish Italian at Flinders University in the 50th anniversary of its establishment, the Year of Dante Alighieri (700th anniversary of his passing) and close to the XXI Week of Italian Language in the World (18-24 October) shows a profound lack of respect for the Italian community at large.

Please SIGN THIS PETITION to let Prof. Stirling know that you

DO NOT AGREE with the closing of Italian at Flinders University.

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