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CONSTRUCTIVE COLLABRATION v CUT-THROAT COMPETITION Keith Marshall, CILT Cymru Crossing Frontiers: Languages and the International Dimension 7 th July 2006.

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Presentation on theme: "CONSTRUCTIVE COLLABRATION v CUT-THROAT COMPETITION Keith Marshall, CILT Cymru Crossing Frontiers: Languages and the International Dimension 7 th July 2006."— Presentation transcript:

1 CONSTRUCTIVE COLLABRATION v CUT-THROAT COMPETITION Keith Marshall, CILT Cymru Crossing Frontiers: Languages and the International Dimension 7 th July 2006

2 1. Types of HE MFL collaboration across the UK Inter-institutional Joint projects between at least two HEIs, but possibly dozens –e.g. IGRS-led scheme for training PG MFL students in research skills Intra-institutional Joint activities between departments in 1 HEI –e.g. Teaching of MFL by specialist/non-specialist lifelong learning departments to students in other departments/ the broader community Schools/HEIs Joint effort to in the interests of turn round the decline in numbers opting for MFL at secondary and HE levels –e.g. Two-way visits by schools and HEIs, widening access programmes, –student mentoring of secondary pupils HE/ business world Companies and HEIs which understand the value of language skills and cultural awareness working together to make the case to businesses and employees who have not got the message e.g. Work of CILT Regional Language Centres

3 2. Forces in favour of collaboration Funding Council insistence on inter-institutional, school-HE, HE/ Business world collaboration in specific, separately funded projects; LLAS facilitation of such joint projects by groups of HEIs, –e.g. Collaboration Programme in Modern Languages in HE (2001-4); LLAS programme to disseminate good practice, mount conferences and workshops, develop a website of generic marketing and teaching/learning materials etc.; Growing realisation in smaller MFL departments and in lesser-learned languages that competing singly in a cut-throat market is extremely wearing and can be fatal; Most departments now down-sized, all too many closing; Evidence that collaboration can be successful –e.g. Dutch in Collaboration Programme funded by HEFCE Small funding council areas where all the HEIs can collaborate. –Ought to be the case in Wales

4 3. Forces against Not all collaboration successful: –Dutch in UCL now stronger, still a part of tripos in Cambridge and minor subject in Sheffield, but virtually extinct in Hull; Fear in smaller departments that inter-institutional collaboration imposed from above is departmental merger & closure, staff redundancy, in disguise; Success of certain HEIs operating independently within the current overall fee/research funding model; Preference/deliberate policy in some larger departments that others should disappear so they can have more students in a declining market; Habit of poor communications between specialist, non-specialist and lifelong learning departments in individual HEIs; Preference within HEIs for departments to keep students fees to themselves rather give some away to language learning providers; Projects put out to competitive tender by generic and research funding councils: –e.g. selection in June 2006 of 5 collaborative groups to fill gaps in language provision in UK after a hard-fought competition involving 13 separate bids (Elizabeth Kendall)

5 4. Wales as example of collaboration v. competition MFL crisis in Wales similar to rest of UK HE; Registrations for specialist degrees down in majority of HEIs from mid-90s: –Particularly in post-92 universities, but also in smaller old institutions; Registrations in the biggest HEI initially steady, then on the up; Managerial reaction more drastic, proportionately, than in most of rest of UK; In a funding council area with only 11 HEIs 3 have closed specialist depts since 2000 Only 4 specialist depts remain

6 5. Governmental response Governmental response in Wales a bit prompter than in England; Welsh Assembly Government Department of Education and Lifelong Learnings Strategy Languages count (2001); Root cause of MFL crisis in Wales: –Welsh and English compulsory from 5 to 16, –MFL compulsory only from 12 to14, –Take-up of MFL at GCSE 38% (2000) and still falling, 33% (2005);

7 6. Languages count Languages count aimed principally at secondary level; Tentative primary scheme: –105 primary in partnership with 21 secondary schools (2003-6), –now risen to 123 primaries in 2006/7) Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) instructed to carry out survey of HE MFL in Wales

8 7. HE MFL survey Survey aims: –Provide a quantitative/qualitative account of all teaching of HE MFL in Wales, –Recommend measures to deal with the current crisis and provide guidance in planning for an achievable future; Cardiff based consultants appointed after open tender (2003); Steering Committee established to initiate survey, advise on data collection, comment on report in draft and final form; –4 members: HEFCW (2) CILT Cymru (1), PVC/ Head of MFL (1) Survey Report published August 2005 –Fullest account ever of HE MFL in Wales –Many recommendations, but no blueprint –Widely circulated, but unfortunately read by very few

9 8. HEFCW Consultation Consultation initiated by HEFCW as a step towards a cross-sector MFL Programme (i.e in all Wales HEIs); Guidance document based on a selection of Report Recommendations circulated to all VCs (August 2005); Workshop for MFL HoDs & HEI Senior managers (early October 2005); Invitation to submit: –outline proposals in line with recommendations (mid October 2005), –fuller collaborative proposals, –ideally one single cross-sector bid (by mid February 2006); HEI response uneven and vague; Initial Reasons: –No public HEFCW announcement on funds till Oct 3 rd, –£100k fund generally seen as insufficient and by one large HEI as so inadequate as not be worth the trouble drafting, submitting and implementing projects; Nonetheless, HEW (Welsh branch of UUK) agreed to submit a single cross-sector proposal from all 11 HEIs (Mid January 2006).

10 9. Joint MFL proposal from Welsh HEIs HEWs decision to submit a cross-sector bid unevenly implemented; A proposal with 7 collaborative projects submitted in mid-February by only 7 HEIs Of the other 4: –1 non-response, –1 institutional abstention, –2 withdrawals on the initiative of specialist MFL HoDs; HEFCW were highly critical of: –personal letters from specialist HoDs d issociating themselves from the bidding process, –VCs for not taking the leading in their HEIs response to the HEFCW £100k ML Fund invitation; The MFL Sector in Wales was judged by HEFCW not yet sufficiently united to produce landscape-changing proposals which can be funded by the well-resourced RDF (Reconfiguration and Collaboration Fund) or SDF (Strategic Development Fund); The habit of departments in individual HEIs not speaking to each other is probably the root cause of the damage to this collaborative bid; Consultation of MFL specialists with other departments (e.g Lifelong Learning) probably would have permitted participation by interested sections of the two biggest HEIs.

11 10. Modest outcomes of survey, consultation, joint bidding £100k allocated by HEFCW to 4 of the collaborative projects, rejecting those originating in smaller, older HEIs: –Generic marketing (CILTC Lead), –Work placements abroad for specialist MFL, students(CILTC/ECTARC lead, –Distance learning (OU lead), –Erasmus students as FLAs in local schools (CILTC lead); The OU is the overall lead HEI Explicit letters of support submitted by the VCs of all 7 participating HEIs Despite the abstention/dissociations an MFL collaborative programme involving 64% of HEIs in one Funding Council area is the biggest ever in the UK

12 11. Conclusion Even in small funding council areas/ regions, the potential benefits of cross-sector collaboration are not sufficient to counter competitive motivation of a single strong HEI £100k for 1 year uniformly seen by HEIs as inadequate; By HEFCW calculation, £200k would be the approximate, scaled-down equivalent of the £4.5m awarded to HE MFL in England by HEFCE; The joint proposal as accepted includes an explicit intention to prepare a statement of interest in RCF/SDF, from which substantial funding is available; As long as two largest HEIs refuse to collaborate cross-sector bidding for RCF/ SDF funding will be virtually impossible; We can take encouragement from Alison Piper, evaluator of Collaboration Programme for Modern Languages, whose final evaluation (December 2004), takes a positive view at UK level: Even in a tough and competitive world, the participants in the Modern Languages Programme have shown that small co-operative partnerships can be both highly academically productive and personally rewarding. Perhaps we just need to be patient; see life through the eyes of Pooh, not Eyore….

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