NUS Wales: Welsh Language Conference

The 30th of April 2012 marked a pivotal moment for both Welsh speaking students and Aberystwyth University. Adam Jones, an Aberystwyth University student was elected by fifteen delegates from Aberystwyth, Bangor, Swansea and Cardiff universities to be the 2012-13 Welsh Language Officer for NUS Wales. The conference, held at Cardiff’s Unite the Union building tackled a number of issues regarding the use of the Welsh language in education, such as;

  • A heightened awareness of a large number of students who speak Welsh and the need for Student Unions to provide more support to the already existing Welsh Language Unions and to offer guidance in the construction of new Welsh unions.
  • The rights of Welsh language students to submit work in Welsh.
  • The need for sabbatical officers at Student Unions to be trained on Welsh language issues.

This follows a desire to raise the awareness of the use of the Welsh language in education, which hitherto has been neglected to degrees. In an interview with Adam Jones, he stressed that a language ‘is far more than a means of communication, it defines who you are- an identity’. Therefore the new constitution will both celebrate cultural individualism and raise an awareness of the language.

During the sessions, the issue of commitment in the representation of Welsh language students was raised. It was noted that the Cardiff and Swansea’s Unions commitment to this was lacking in comparison to that of Swansea and Aberystwyth unions. It’s this apathy that Jones wishes to overcome and raise awareness of Welsh in education to create an equal freedom of expression for both English and Welsh speaking students.

The issue of the availability and demand for University courses to be conducted in the medium of Welsh was also raised by Dafydd Trystan, a senior figure in Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.

Furthermore, the NUS Wales’s Welsh Language Committee were elected four delegates for the 2012-13 period; Carys Ann Thomas (Aberystwyth University); Guto Gwilym (Bangor University); Owain Harries (Swansea University); Geralt Roberts (Cardiff University).

Another Aberystwyth University student; Jacob Ellis, was elected as the NUS Wales Welsh Language Steering Officer.

This conference and the new elections that it entailed will hopefully both raise awareness and availability in the use of Welsh in the educational system. Furthermore this will also celebrate identity amongst the varying cultures that construct university societies.