University of the Highlands and Islands chair appointed to European role
The outgoing chair of the Court of the University of the Highlands and Islands, Professor Matthew MacIver CBE, has been appointed as the UK independent member on the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (Comex). The appointment has been announced by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers. This is the first time that a Scot and a Gael has been appointed to Comex, a committee which oversees the protection and promotion of regional and minority languages throughout Europe.
Professor MacIver, a native Gaelic speaker, was born and brought up in the Island of Lewis and was educated at the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway and at Edinburgh University. He has had a distinguished career in Scottish education, having been the rector of Fortrose Academy, the rector of the Royal High School of Edinburgh and the chief executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland. Over the years he has been heavily involved in the development of Gaelic. He has chaired the Gaelic Playgroups Association, the Gaelic Broadcasting Committee, Bord na Gaidhlig (the Gaelic Language Board) and the National Working Group on teacher shortages in Gaelic.
“I am looking forward immensely to the challenge of this new appointment,” said Professor MacIver. “I regard it as a great privilege. I am proud to be the first Scot to be appointed to Comex. Minority languages will not develop in isolation; they have to learn from each other. In a world of increasing globalisation, cooperation is vital if these languages and their accompanying cultures are to survive. A committee like Comex enables us to examine what is happening with other minority languages and to learn from their experiences.
“I hope also that my own appointment will allow the voice of Gaelic to be heard throughout Europe. Just as I hope we can learn from others, so I am clear that much is to be learned from our experiences in Scotland.”
These posts are unsalaried and each expert is expected to be the rapporteur of a specific country, being in charge of the drafting of the evaluation report to be adopted by the Committee of Experts. Professor MacIver takes up the appointment immediately.