The administration of the Faculty of Humanities of Utrecht University has announced it intends to close down definitively its BA program in Portuguese Studies at the latest in 2014 but with immediate consequences for the staff and for students who might want to enroll now. The section on Portuguese Language and Culture is the only one in the Netherlands and one of a few in Northern Europe to offer a complete program of studies for the BA and it participates in several MA programs on Literary Studies, Renaissance, Translation, and Latin American Studies, besides awarding PhD degrees as well. Its curriculum focuses on both Portuguese and Brazilian culture. The research activities carried out by members of the Portuguese section enjoy wide international recognition with their focus on Postcolonial Studies, Modernism, and Cinema Studies. With the closing down of the BA program there will be no possibility for students anywhere in the Netherlands to receive a degree in Portuguese Studies.
Portuguese is a major language, with over two hundred million speakers worldwide, notably in Brazil, one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Portugal and the Netherlands have innumerous points of contact in their history. In today’s Europe, the ability to know more than one of the languages of the European Union and to have access to global affairs is crucial. Shutting down the BA in Portuguese language and culture is a shortsighted measure with little effect on the Faculty’s need to reduce its budget, that ignores the importance of Portuguese in academic, cultural, and global terms.
We, the undersigned, urge Yvonne van Rooy, Chair of the Governance Board of the University of Utrecht, to reverse the decision to close Portuguese Studies at Utrecht and to maintain the long tradition of excellence of such studies at the University of Utrecht and the Netherlands.