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It's attitude not aptitude where ever you're from.

Byline: ian PARRI

IFIND it difficult to believe that yet another Welsh university couldn't find a sharp enough academic mind this side of the Dyke to take the reins of power.

Do universities in smaller countries than us, such as Slovenia or Iceland, struggle to get their own people running the show? A lack of clever people has never been Wales' problem. Intellectual windbags we've never been short of.

Now Aberystwyth University follows hot on Bangor's heels, appointing Scotswoman, Prof April McMahon to the vice-chancellorship, after Bangor gave its top job to Irishman Prof John Hughes.

That's not to denigrate their capabilities, their CVs speak for themselves.

It's just you'd think somebody with some sort of Welsh background would have a better understanding of the inadequately funded education system through which our students would've been dragged before being handed over to them.

Isn't it a major part of these universities' remit to cater for the needs of Wales and its young people? Or do they only care about competing in the international cattle market to see who can attract the most students? Not to mention the thick fees often forked out by their governments.

So I can understand language campaigners' anger at the anomalies of these institutions, supposedly offering higher education through both Welsh and English, being run by people who don't speak the two languages.

It's rather like having a kitchen run by a chef who can cook chicken but not duck.

That said, I don't necessarily believe the appointment of either need be bad for the status of Welsh within their respective universities.

Both of them have promised to learn the language. Prof McMahon has a rich background and interest in languages, while Prof Hughes improved the standing of the Irish language at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth no end while he was in charge.

And let's not forget how vehemently opposed Sir Charles Evans, deputy leader of the team who conquered Everest in 1953, was to any expansion in Welsh provision during his highly divisive vice-chancellorship at Bangor between 1957 and 1984.

It led to massive protests, his office being stormed, parts of the campus occupied, and the confidential files of some 3,000 students stolen and dumped in a public toilet 15 miles away in Dinas Dinlle.

Sir Charles was not only a Welshman, but a fluent Welsh speaker who spoke no English until he was seven. Enough said? Englishman Richard Brunstrom, on the other hand, improved the standing of Welsh within North Wales Police more than any of his predecessors during his tenure as chief constable.

Including Welsh speaker David Owen, who even resolutely refused to have the word "Heddlu" put on the force's cars, on the pretext people wouldn't recognise them as such.

Yeah, even with flashing blue lights, fluorescent stripes, blaring klaxons, and officers bearing truncheons driving them. As if.

Proving it's probably all more to do with attitude than aptitude. Or even where you're from.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 28, 2011
Words:495
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