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Dundee Botanic Garden Likely to Go

SCOTLAND
20 February 2007

"I reiterate our commitment to students, to staff and to the wider community in taking these measures forward"
Sir Alan Langlands, University Principal

Craig Murray, Dundee University Rector

 Craig Murray, the new
Rector, opposes the cuts
Image © Linda Nylind

Dundee University court has agreed by 11 votes to five to accept a plan to reduce the university's ongoing budget deficit, currently estimated at more than £1.5m. Savings are being sought through job cuts, department closures - and potentially through the sale or closure of the Botanic Gardens.

Like other Scottish universities, Dundee is growing, but it also faces mounting financial pressures.  

Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, has spoken out against the plan. "This tendency, particularly at Dundee University, to expand the layers of bureaucracy while looking at cutting academic tradition, is not something that benefits students or the wider community."

Mr Murray echoed concerns raised by the UCU that an artificial financial crisis had been created by a campus development programme that has seen millions spent on new buildings.

"I am very worried about the university's desire to cut staff and cut the languages department," he said. "I'm not at all sure the financial situation justifies it.

Finance director Peter Cooper resigned earlier this month after the announcement of the budget shortfall.

Efforts have begun to try to involve the city council and Dundee Partnership in the garden to keep it open.

Andrew Morrison, chairman of the Friends of Dundee Botanic Garden said, “Any cuts would have a devastating impact on the garden.

“Staff would have to be made redundant and the education and events programme would have to be reduced or even stopped altogether.”

In its official statement, the university said the botanic garden used to play a key role in supporting the teaching of plant sciences and in related research, but this is no longer the case.

It added, “While some modest use is made of the gardens for students and staff, they can no longer be identified as essential to the university’s core activities.”

However, BGCI can report that the Dundee garden is participating in the UK's GSPC Target 8 project (ex situ conservation) by working on two UK threatened plants - Astragalus alpinus and Astragalus danicus.

 

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