STAFF at Aberdeen University are being balloted over potential strike action after the institution decided to scrap single honours degrees in modern languages.

The University and College Union (UCU) said about 30 people are at risk of redundancy due to the changes, which will mean students will not be able to start degrees in French, German, Spanish or Gaelic alone.

The head of the Aberdeen UCU branch called the plans “frankly embarassing”, adding that students who wish to study modern languages will have to move from the region to be able to do so.

READ MORE: UCU holds rally against modern languages cuts at Aberdeen University

The university court made the decision to scrap single honours degrees in modern languages in December, based on a recommendation from the senior vice principal, Professor Karl Laydecker.

It means that, from the next academic year, those wishing to study modern languages at Aberdeen University will have to do so as part of a joint degree.

The university’s management said low uptake of the courses meant the current model is not sustainable.

Current figures estimate around 200 full-time educated students are enrolled on modern languages programmes at the university, although this figure does not distinguish between single honours and joint honours programmes.

A UCU ballot on industrial action is opening on Wednesday and will run until February 7.

It follows a consultative ballot which took place last month in response to the proposed cuts, with 81% of members saying they would support strike action, and 87% in support of action short of a strike.

Should the result of the ballot echo the results of the consultative ballot, it is likely that the university will be impacted by industrial action in the new semester if senior management does not back down on the cuts.

READ MORE: Aberdeen uni chief panned for wanting financial 'pain' for boycotting staff

Aberdeen UCU branch chair, Dr Rachel Shanks, said: “Modern languages is a key part of any university.

“Cutting single honours degrees from the university would mean students in the north and north-east having to leave the region to study their subject.

“For an ancient institution with the history and reputation of Aberdeen to consider, this move is frankly embarrassing.

“It’s clear that this is just the start of senior management’s plans.

“It’s important that members send a clear message that we don’t accept the need for jobs to be lost and that we will stand behind and support any member whose job is threatened.”

The axing of single honours degrees has been heavily criticised by many, particularly as it reduces the university’s provision of Gaelic.

The National:

Aberdeen University is one of only four universities in the world to offer Gaelic degrees.

An anonymous source previously told The National that in rolling back on its provision of Gaelic, Aberdeen University is committing “cultural, historic and linguistic vandalism”.

The university established its statutory Gaelic language plan in 2014, committing the university to Gaelic education and research.

As part of that plan, the university pledged to promote “a positive image of Gaelic”, increase the learning of Gaelic and “increase the use of Gaelic”.

Some have said the cuts go directly against the university's commitment to Gaelic, making it “the first public authority in Scotland to renege on its Gaelic plan".