Wednesday, October 9, 2013

University language department closures 10 things

1. The number of universities offering modern foreign languages has declined by 40% over the past 15 years. In 1998, 93 universities offered specialist language degrees, whereas now only 56 do.

2.German is the worst affected subject. The number of universities offering degrees courses in the subject has halved over the past 15 years.

3. The situation is getting worse, not improved. Since the Guardian's last analysis of language decline in 2007, the rate at which language departments are closing has accelerate.

4. Since 2007, 11 universities have closed their language departments totally. Anglia Ruskin, Brighton, Liverpool John Moors and Wolverhampton are among the universities that no longer offer language degrees at all.

5. The move to make languages optional at GCSE slashed the number of language learner. After Labor dropped languages as compulsory key stage 4 subjects in 2004, the proportion of pupils taking a language GCSE fell. Although this year's cohort shows a slight uptake, the demand for languages beyond GCSE continues to fall.

6. Academics are asked government to do something. In a letter published in the Guardian, 75 academics from institutions across the UK urged Equal to address the unfair grading of exams.

7. UK trade is losing out because of graduates' lack of language skills. The union of British Industry described the country's linguistic deficit as a tax on UK trade because it will hold back its skill to do business overseas.

8. Languages are more and more becoming a pursuit of the elite. Out of the remaining single-honours courses, Russell Group universities dominate language teaching. Three-quarters of Italian degrees, two-thirds of German and half of French and Spanish studies degrees are taught are these institutions.

9. The language teaching gulf is widening. At independent schools and state schools in rich areas, language teaching fares best. The percentage of pupils on free school meals taking a least one modern foreign language has dropped from 26% in 2007 to 14% in 2013.

10. Once student numbers fell, market forces took hold and deepened the crisis. Michael Kelly, head of modern languages at the Southampton University. Warns that because the student pool has shrunk, it has become uneconomic to teach the variety of courses required, and university managers are increasingly reluctant to continue supporting loss-making departments.