GROWTH AREA: Fiona Dunn says enthusiasm for studying Gaelic is on the rise. Picture: Martin Shields
Glasgow University says growing numbers of overseas students, and those from south of the Border, were choosing Gaelic as an additional subject alongside their degree.
Fiona Dunn, the university's Gaelic language officer, said the increase was because visiting students wanted to learn about the culture and language of the country they had come to.
The study of Gaelic is already on the increase in Scotland and the Scottish Government recently announced financial support for a raft of new projects promoting the language.
The cash includes £5000 to support initiatives at Glasgow University, which is launching its Gaelic Language Plan today.
Under the scheme, the university is considering introducing Gaelic into its graduation ceremonies, increasing the use of bilingual signing, and developing a Gaelic university logo.
Ms Dunn said: "We are seeing increasing numbers of undergraduate students from overseas and the rest of the UK who are contacting us about studying Gaelic.
"The reason often given is that these students want to experience the language and culture of the country around them."
Ms Dunn said there was also growth at postgraduate level with ten students conducting Gaelic-specific research compared to just two in 2007/08.
She said: "This is very encouraging and reflects the growing interest in the language and the fact students are keen to take this to an even more in-depth level."
Professor Anton Muscatelli, the university principal, stressed the importance of the new Gaelic plan to the wider university.
He said: "Gaelic is a significant part of Scotland's cultural and social identity and we are justifiably proud that it has been taught on campus for more than a century."
The university was asked to prepare the plan by the Gaelic promotion agency Bòrd na Gàidhlig under the terms of the Gaelic Language (Scotland)Act 2000. For the past year it has been developing the plan internally and with other organisations.
A six-week public consultation in July 2012 let staff, students and the public comment on the plan to develop Gaelic language and culture in the university and the community.
The university aims to increase the number of students on Gaelic-related undergraduate and postgraduate courses every year.
It will also expand its adult learning provision by introducing Gaelic language summer courses. Staff who deal with the public will also be given Gaelic language training to allow them to converse in the basics.
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