Robert Cribb responds to Robert Dessaix
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Here in Europe the cold winds of formula-based funding for Universities have also been felt and many small subjects have come under threat of closure, much like Russian at ANU.
Both the Swedish and Dutch governments, however, have recognized that there is an over-riding national interest in preserving expertise in 'minor' languages and other fields where student enrolments at any one university make such subjects uneconomic (especially in a country where geographical distance precludes cross-enrolment, as in Sweden).
Their response has been to develop distinctive policies to sustain what are called 'small subjects' at a range of universities across the country. Programmes are maintained, albeit at a minimal level, so that they do not disappear entirely, and rather than individual universities being asked to take a national burden altruistically, the national interest is acknowledged by means of separate national funding.
Prof. Robert Cribb, Director Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Leifsgade 33, 2300 Copenhagen-S, Denmark