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Are Modern Languages degrees on the road to extinction? Jim Coleman, Open University and Chair, University Council of Modern Languages All Party Parliamentary.

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Presentation on theme: "Are Modern Languages degrees on the road to extinction? Jim Coleman, Open University and Chair, University Council of Modern Languages All Party Parliamentary."— Presentation transcript:

1 Are Modern Languages degrees on the road to extinction? Jim Coleman, Open University and Chair, University Council of Modern Languages All Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages, 4 December 2013

2 2 Do we need language graduates? 2% of all UK students Economic Diplomatic Defence

3 3 Concentration of provision Universities offering degrees in languages

4 4 Concentration of provision Universities offering Single or Combined Honours degrees in languages French German Spanish Italian433933

5 5 Falling student numbers 1992 peak recruitment sharp decline marginal annual increase 2012 tripling of fees: 14% drop in numbers 2013 fall of less than 1% Course and department closures over 20 years

6 6 Russell Group domination Language student numbers up 11% in pre-1992 universities Language student numbers down 24% in post-1992 HEIs

7 7 Russell Group domination 2010/11 Pre-1992 universities Post-1992 universities European languages 78%22% Non-European languages 95%5%

8 8 Concentration of provision Internationally, recruitment to Modern Languages degrees is in decline Nationally, link to social background 25% of language students from independent schools Schools in more privileged areas –more likely to offer languages –more likely to steer pupils to most selective universities

9 9 Three issues Fall in student numbers Loss of curriculum choice Efforts to widen participation unsuccessful

10 10 What has happened in schools? Fall in numbers taking GCSE and A-level in languages Languages perceived as difficult Severe marking at GCSE and A-level Schools withdraw from languages to optimise performance in league tables Mandatory language GCSE dropped 2004 – indirect impact > languages seen as no longer a core skill for all, but a curriculum option for bright non-scientists

11 11 What has happened in schools? Key Stage 2: mandatory primary languages from 2014 –flawed model, under-resourced, no impact before 2025 Key Stage 3: reduced contact time Key Stage 4: EBacc one-off increase at GCSE A-level Ofqual enquiry into marking New curricula at GCSE and A-level Confusion over performance measures (EBacc, EBacc Certificate, best-of-eight) > languages no longer crucial

12 12 Any good news? Existing specialist language degrees high-quality, research-informed, good graduate employability Strong growth in non-specialist language students (Language Centres, IWLPs) Highest ever outward mobility from UK Higher Education Funding Council for England support –Strategically Important and Vulnerable Subject –£25m annual year abroad funding –Continued concern and support

13 13 What is language community doing? Active involvement in cross-sector initiatives (Born Global, Speak to the Future) Media input Specific successful action on Valuing the Year Abroad (British Academy – UCML, 2012) Demand-side: Routes into Languages, consortium of 80 universities involved with schools and employers

14 14 What is language community doing? Supply-side: HEFCE Catalyst Fund bids for five-year projects to –renew curriculum –attract new types of students –widen participation –online, blended and mobile delivery –virtual and physical mobility and exchange –languages ladder: national proficiency levels endorsed by employers


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