Save language teaching at the University of Southern Queensland

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The University of Southern Queensland, based in Toowoomba, has decided to terminate the teaching of German and Mandarin language and culture from the end of 2018. It is keeping open the possibility of teaching just a single unit in basic Mandarin language and culture.

This is devastating news for the two highly respected teachers involved, and for the students who signed up for three-year majors in these languages, whose degrees are now thrown into turmoil.

The excuse for this decision is low student enrolments. These have hardly changed in the last four years. If these were the issue, why is it that in my nine years at USQ, I have never seen any attempt by the university to encourage either existing or prospective students to study languages at the university?

This decision also ignores the value and importance of learning a second language to the lives, careers and civic engagement of the young and more mature students who study at USQ.

German is important, both as a major international language, and for many families of German origin in a region which boasted the largest settlement of German immigrants in the nineteenth century.

And how does any university fail to see the importance of studying Chinese language and culture in an era when China has become more and more important to Australian politics, business and society? The Toowoomba region in particular has attempted to increase its engagement with China.

With this decision, the university is ignoring the increasing priority that both the current government and Labor opposition are giving to increasing the study of Asian languages.

We, the undersigned, call on the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geraldine Mackenzie, to recommit to the teaching of full majors in both languages, and to finally begin actively promoting them internally and externally. Our students, current and future, regional and online, deserve nothing less.