“I doubt that I would be a writer at all were it not for DACE” – Liz Lochhead, Scotland’s National Poet

I am genuinely incredulous that the University is thinking of discontinuing its Department of Adult and Continuing Education. What kind of University does not wish — for the sake of its own health and vitality apart from that of the community at large — to keep and develop links with the City, the people and Scottish Culture at large? Surely in the context of the huge swell in unemployment and or early retirement bound to be occasioned by the cuts being implemented in all sectors of public services it is even MORE important to keep such doors open? I can say in perfect truthfulness that I doubt that I would be a writer at all were it not for the year of ‘Extra Mural Evening Classes in Creative Writing’ , those ten per term, two terms in the Session of 1970/71, run by the amazing Philip Hobsbaum of the University’s English Department. He taught everything — and more — that , in my direct experience, gets imparted to most students these days on Masters in Creative Writing programmes anywhere. He taught very toughly with great respect for all students, never treating any of us as dilletantes or hobbyists. (Of course some of us (not I, and Philip Hobsbaum’s recognising of this changed my life!) were enthusiastic amateurs, but that year there was also one Jeff Torrington, a former Linwood Car Worker who was already working on, and sharing with the class, his first drafts of the novel Swing Hammer Swing which — much later — won the Whitbread Book of the Year Prize. And James Kelman, our Booker prize-winning novelist and world-class short story writer was one of Philip’s DACE students the following year. Philip Hobsbaum introduced Kelman to my writing and to Torrington’s — and importantly, with an astonishing presience, introduced Kelman’s work to both of us, taking us all really seriously as writers. Later Kelman. Alasdair Gray and I all taught classes for the department, going far afield to Dumfries and to Alexandria. We all spotted a lot more emerging talent, among them the renowned (at last) Agnes Owens. All of us would I know willingly testify to the crucial role of the department. I keep meeting more recently published and emerging poets who have gained invaluable insights from Donny ORourke, and from their classmates. I meet people, young retirees from all walks of life whose lives have been transformed by DACE. People like my friend , a former nurse who since she retired at 55 has done a different Specialist Art History Course (including rigorously marked essays ) and progressed though several levels in Italian. What kind of University doesn’t care about this? Has such a narrow view of the value of Education? This proposal beggars belief. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO QUOTE ME IN MY ‘OFFICIAL’ ROLE AS SCOTLAND’S MAKAR OR AS A CONCERNED CITIZEN OF GLASGOW AND FORMER WRITER IN RESIDENCE OF THE UNIVERSITY, A PLACE AND AN INSTITUTION WHICH I LOVE. Liz Lochhead March 24 2011

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About savedace

Current and former students of the Department of Adult and Continuing Education, University of Glasgow, fighting to keep access to varied, high quality education available to Glasgow
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