Scotland

Tom Stoppard in call to protect lesser taught languages

Playwright Sir Tom Stoppard has told a committee of MSPs that if more is not done to protect lesser taught languages now they will be gone forever.

The writer, who won an Oscar for his screenplay Shakespeare in Love, delivered his message in a petition to the Scottish Parliament.

Czechoslovakian-born Sir Tom wants to protect languages such as Russian, Czech and Polish.

Members of the Petitions Committee agreed to look at the issue further.

The committee heard that languages have been in decline at Scottish universities for a number of years.

Most recently, five came under threat of the axe at Glasgow University.

Sir Tom, who came to Britain as a refugee, told MSPs: "For me the reputation for teaching language in general, and East European languages most particularly, gave Glasgow University, and by reflection the country, a distinction.

"It made it a place to be recommended everywhere."

He warned: "It is on its way out, it will be gone."

The committee will now send official letters to the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish government and Glasgow University asking what can be done to save the courses.

Also giving evidence on the petition were Jan Culik, senior lecturer in Czech studies, from Glasgow University, and historian and political advisor Hugh McMahon.

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