Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 32, No. 16. July 16, 1969
Language Unit Discussed
Language Unit Discussed
The Future structure of the degree of Batchelor of Arts, now that the language requirements has been abolished, is under discussion by some students.
Andrew Chapman, the Education Officer, is examining the possibility of a structured degree along the lines of some overseas degrees.
The first year of a course is usually a general year in which subjects considered necessary for a background to an arts degree (including a language) are studied by all students.
The student then chooses a major field of study, within which there will be certain alternative subjects be may take.
The first general year could be dealt with by Community Colleges, Mr. Chapman said.
Community colleges have been proposed as an alternative to upper sixth forms, which should provide a link between the schools and the universities.
Auckland students are also studying this question—as part of an NZUSA survey on education.
Mr Chapman is opposed to the idea of a structured degree based on compulsion, though he is in favour of guidelines being provided.
The administration is mainly opposed to further structuring.
Apart from a mention during discussions about the Reading Knowledge requirement in March, there has been little discussion about change in this or any other direction.
The English Department now requires a stage one language unit, or its equivalent, before a student may gain a pass in English III, if this is his only stage III unit.
Professor Bailey, of the Education Department, said: "It has been left to individual departments."
Noting the action of the English Department, he said that "very few departments will do anything more.
"My hunch is that it will simmer down for a while," he said.
Mr Carrard, senior lecturer in German, believe that Reading Knowledges may even "moderately flourish" as "purely optional elements".
"There is likely to be a fresh call for language in communication", he said.
"However direct compulsion may be avoided, and some form of positive incentive lake its place."
The science faculty, too, seems to be moving away from structured degrees.
The Science Faculty Development Committee, in a preliminary report in April, said: "Any new degree structure(s) should be aimed at increasing the flexibility of student courses, and such flexibility should permit both a greater intensity of study in the major subjects than at present, or a lesser intensity with a broader spectrum of subjects."
Another matter which concerns the Education Officer is the language requirement for an Honours degree, which still exists.
"I'm putting forward submissions for honours", he said.
At present the language can be done concurrently with the honours course, and a person may be exempted from it with the permission of the Professorial Board.
The foreign language requirement was introduced by Victoria College (as it was then called in 1950.
This was after the New Zealand University, of which Victoria was a member, had introduced a clause in its Calendar allowing the Professorial Boards of its various colleges to require a student to give evidence of his ability to read a foreign language.
Victoria allowed an amnesty period until 1954, when the regulation came into effect.
In 1966 a case for the abolition of the language requirement was put to the administration.
In 1967 the registrar wrote that the Professorial Board viewed the Reading Knowledge as "a linguistic study in a genuinely humanistic sense and, as such, worthy of being retained."
In 1968 Education Officer Caroline McGrath collected 1000 signatures for a petition to be set up to investigate the value of the Reading Knowledge requirement.
She and the President of the Association Doug White by-passed the normal channels, and took the petition straight to the Vice Chancellor.
The Vice Chancellor said a committee would be set up in February the following year.
"I was annoyed" said Miss McGrath.
"We had asked for it to be set up quickly.
"This highlighted the question of better communication in the universities."
Caroline McGrath also asked affected students to send in case studies.
The Committee which first met in February this year, included the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Professor Minn, Executives of the faculties of Arts, Languages and Literature, and five student representatives.
They recommended that the regulation relating to the language requirement (regulation 8) be deleted.
The matter then went to the Joint Faculties of Arts, and Languages and Literature.
They passed the recommendation to the Professorial Board.
After a little opposition the recommendation was accepted by the Professorial Board and then by Council.
Students who enrolled for Reading Knowledges this year, are advised by Caroline McGrath not to drop them, in case the Curriculum Committee of the University Grants Committe amends Council's motion for special cases.
The figures of students enrolled for Reading Knowledges in 1969 are:
Latin, 8; Greek, 5; French, 104; Italian, 168; German, 43; Russian, 18; and 75 in Maori.