The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has announced an additional £3.1 million to support a new programme of activity led by the University of Southampton which will encourage more young people of all backgrounds to study languages at university.
From August 2013, a consortium led by the University’s Centre for Languages Linguistics and Area Studies will deliver a three-year programme which builds upon the achievements of the Routes into Languages activities by stimulating new ideas and partnerships to address the challenges arising from reforms in schools and higher education.
The new programme, which will retain the Routes into Languages name, will encourage greater collaboration between universities, schools and employers, with the aim of raising aspirations and attainment of students in secondary schools and higher education. Activities will include events, the appointing of student ambassadors and sustained interventions such as programmes of languages in context and a national language-related Spelling Bee competition. There will also be a focus on increasing participation in work and study abroad, and promoting career opportunities and employability for language students.
University of Southampton Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Routes into Languages programme, says: “I am delighted that we shall be able to build on the remarkable achievements of Routes in promoting the study of languages. The HEFCE investment will facilitate a unique programme of collaboration between more than 60 universities across England, working with hundreds of schools and thousands of students. The new programme, co-ordinated by the team at the University of Southampton, will make a real impact on the take-up of languages and of opportunities to work and study abroad.”
Chris Millward, HEFCE Associate Director, comments: “We are very pleased to continue our support for this important programme to raise demand from young people to study modern foreign languages. Employers have consistently highlighted the importance of languages and intercultural skills within a globalised labour force. The new programme’s activities will complement our recent funding settlement for the year abroad by promoting language-based studies, and study and work abroad, to students in all disciplines.”
Professor Jim Coleman, Chair of the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML), says: “HEFCE’s initiative underlines the enormous importance of language study in this country and UCML’s members enthusiastically welcome this renewed support. University language departments are totally committed to championing language learning in schools, to maximising outward mobility and to increasing the take-up of languages by students in all disciplines. We are renewing language curricula and expanding access to provide graduates with the full range of capabilities which the job market demands. HEFCE’s backing helps us enormously in achieving these goals – this is a great day for languages.”
HEFCE is continuing to support modern foreign languages within its programme of support for strategically important and vulnerable subjects (SIVS). Following advice from the SIVS Advisory Group, HEFCE is considering how collaborative provision may sustain the modern foreign language supply in higher education, despite the continued decline in applications to modern foreign language degree courses.