Recent statistics have revealed that almost half of all students studying a degree through the medium of Welsh now do so at Bangor University. In addition, the largest number of lecturers teaching through the medium of Welsh are also based at Bangor University.
Welsh-medium education is one of the Welsh Government’s top priorities, and is crucial in achieving the Government’s strategy of having a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
Professor Jerry Hunter, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Bangor University said: “Having a comprehensive Welsh-medium education system, which allows the children and young people of Wales to learn and study through the medium of Welsh all the way from nursery to higher education, is absolutely crucial to the prosperity of the language.
“In aiming to reach a million by 2050, it is essential that our higher education institutions give young people the opportunity to continue their education through the medium of Welsh. In this regard, it is heartening to see Bangor University leading the field in Wales and providing numerous opportunities for students to study full degree programmes and individual modules through the medium of Welsh.”
Professor Hunter added: “Although the number of Welsh speakers has been distributed across Wales, it is amazing that 44% of all students studying a degree course wholly through the medium of Welsh are doing so in Bangor.
“Being able to study some subjects entirely through the medium of Welsh is great, naturally, but it should also be remembered that elements of all subjects taught at Bangor can be studied through the medium of Welsh.”
Recently, numerous examples have shown that Bangor University is leading in many areas related to the Welsh language and culture. The Cydymaith i Gerddoriaeth Cymru (‘The Companion to Welsh Music’) was published in September 2018 and is an authoritative directory that covers all aspects of music in Wales, from the 6th Century to the present day. And in the context of the present day and the place of technologies in our daily lives, attention has been given by the European Parliament to the research and specialist resources of Canolfan Bedwyr’s Language Technologies Unit recently.
In addition, the Language Technologies Unit has been responsible for contributing their expertise to the Welsh language action plan published by the Welsh Government in October 2018, leading on the development of Welsh versions of digital personal assistants and artificial intelligence systems that will allow these machines to understand Welsh.
In addition, as a result of Bangor University’s specialisms, technology can be used to develop a machine translation system, which will lead to increasing the number of Welsh texts available for reading and for audio consumption.
Professor Jerry Hunter explained the importance of the University’s expertise and knowledge: “As well as being a major Welsh-medium higher education provider, it is great to see Bangor University leading on all those supplementary elements – research, policy and technology – which contribute to the Welsh Government’s goal of having a million speakers of Welsh by 2050. These are not separate aspects, developed in silos, but rather the infrastructure we need as we head towards this ambitious goal.”
“There is no doubt that Bangor is leading the way in developing and increasing the opportunities available to use Welsh. Our contribution to scholarship through the medium of Welsh is unique, but perhaps even more importantly is our contribution towards protecting and increasing the number of Welsh speakers.
“It must be remembered that Bangor students are developing to be future teachers, healthcare professionals, business people, scientists and civil servants – and the fact that so many of them have achieved their degree through the medium of Welsh is crucial to the success of the Government’s strategy to have a million Welsh speakers by 2050,” added Professor Hunter.