Latest News

A selection of language-related news. Does not claim to be comprehensive or represent the views of SCILT.

Languages - Higher Education

The Guardian University Guide 2022: Modern Languages & Linguistics

11 September 2021 (The Guardian)

Find a course at one of the top universities in the country. The Guardian's league tables rank them all subject-by-subject, as well as by student satisfaction, staff numbers, spending and career prospects. Select Modern Languages & Linguistics from the subject dropdown box for current rankings.


No history, no languages… the end of humanities only deepens divides

26 January 2020 (The Guardian)

Sunderland University wants to become more “career-focused”. So it is to shut down all its language, politics and history courses and promote instead degrees that “align with particular employment sectors”. It’s an illustration of what happens when universities turn into businesses, and their ethos is defined by the market. It’s also symbolic of the divisions that now rend Britain’s social fabric.


Erasmus+: Global skills for a global future

22 March 2018 (British Council)

The debate over the details of the UK’s future collaboration with the EU is at a critical stage. Emma Skelton reports on a recent expert seminar on the future of UK-EU partnerships for higher education.

The British Council and the Centre for European Policy Studies recently convened a high-level policy dialogue in Brussels on ‘The Future of the EU-UK Partnership on Higher Education and Student Mobility’. This was part of a series of events between key EU and UK policymakers and influencers examining the implications of Brexit for existing collaboration in the sectors of international development, culture and education. 

Much discussion at the event focussed on the Erasmus+ programme. Erasmus+ is the largest provider of student mobility for British students to countries in Europe and beyond. Contributors to the seminar highlighted the importance of the UK to the scheme as a whole, as one of the most popular destination countries, which speakers attributed in part to the excellent reputation of UK universities. They also emphasised the call from British companies for more talent with international experience, intercultural awareness and language skills, which can all be gained through mobility programmes such as Erasmus+.


Worrying decline in study of languages, warns British Academy

11 January 2018 (British Academy)

Following today’s publication by HESA of HE Student Statistics (2016/17), the British Academy has expressed concerns at a decline of student numbers choosing languages at undergraduate level. Entries for full-time and part-time undergraduate students taking languages were down 4% and 9% respectively. The British Academy is deeply concerned that this year’s decline will further reduce the already low supply of students who are qualified to go on to careers as language teachers in secondary schools.


The degrees that make you rich... and the ones that don't

17 November 2017 (BBC news)

Why study languages? According to research undertaken by Institute for Fiscal Studies, when ranking subjects according to how much graduates earn five years after graduation, languages come out in the top ten — ahead of both business and law.


Could instant translation technology revolutionise world HE?

17 October 2017 (THE)

Language is often cited as one of the main obstacles to universities’ internationalisation efforts, blamed for everything from the low number of UK students studying abroad to Japan’s lagging behind on numbers of foreign academics and internationally co-authored publications.

So could new technology allow students and academics to transcend language barriers – and therefore transform international higher education?

Earlier this month Google launched Pixel Buds – a new set of wireless earbud headphones that deliver real-time translation between 40 different languages using Google Translate on a Pixel smartphone.

Bragi’s Dash Pro earbuds deliver the same feature using the iTranslate app on an iPhone.

Colin Mitchell, learning technologist at Leeds Beckett University, said that the technology has the potential to benefit scholars and students.


Alarm raised over modern language cuts at Manchester University

20 May 2017 (Guardian)

Planned staffing cuts that will hit modern languages teaching and research at Britain’s largest university should be scrapped, a group of senior academics have warned in a letter to the Guardian. The plan to shed as many as 35 jobs from the University of Manchester’s school of arts – a third of its strength – would do harm to the UK in the long run, they said.


Brexit prompts academics to consider future for modern languages

18 January 2017 (THE)

How can linguists make the case for their subject in a new and seemingly hostile climate of political populism?

That was the theme of a workshop organised by the University Council for Modern Languages and held in London on 6 January.

Since the Brexit vote, said Silke Mentchen, senior language teaching officer at the University of Cambridge, she had felt like “a bargaining chip”, waiting for details of the status of the many European Union nationals working in British universities.

Partly in order to “combat [her] own feelings of powerlessness”, she had carried out a survey with Andrea Klaus of the University of Warwick “documenting the benefits to students of a year abroad”, which are often supported by EU funding under the Erasmus+ programme. Respondents described such years as “the highlight of my time at university” and even “one of the most defining features of my life to date”.


Languages 'Beyond School'

16 September 2016 (SCILT)

As the UCAS application process gets underway, make sure any pupils thinking of continuing their language studies checks out the Beyond School section of our website.

This section contains useful information to help senior pupils decide on the different language courses and options available once they have left school, at college, university or as part of a gap year. There are links to courses available in Scotland and across the UK.

Pupils, parents, guidance and careers staff should all find this section of our website useful.


UCMLS Cross-Sector Initiatives

16 September 2016 (SCILT)

Please check out a new section on our website, dedicated to the cross-sector work by UCMLS, and register for one of the all-important regional cross-sector meetings on 22 September (North and Central Hubs), 28 September (West Hub) and 30 September (East Hub). You'll find out more about the recent cross-sector conference and UCMLS plans for the next six months.


University guide 2017: league table for modern languages & linguistics

23 May 2016 (The Guardian)

Use the Guardian's 2017 league table of modern languages and linguistics taught at UK universities to help with course choices.

A link to the guide can also be found on the Beyond School area of the SCILT website under the Language courses, UK universities section.


UCML writes to Northumbria University re the closure of its language degree programmes

18 September 2015 (UCML)

Northumbria University has reviewed its degrees in French and Spanish and decided to close them for being non viable, due to student numbers.

UCML understands that a review has recently been conducted resulting in this lamentable decision. Not only are these degree programmes rated very highly in NSS scores and in Best University Guides (e.g. the Times and Guardian versions), but this decision further shifts provision of language degrees towards pre-92 universities, reducing student choice of destinations.

Read UCML's letter to Northumbria University senior management.


Young Applicants in Schools (YASS)

10 September 2015 (Open University)

The Open University's Young Applicants in Schools Scheme (YASS) gives S6 students in Scotland the opportunity to study at higher education level without leaving friends and family behind. Study fits around school work and social lives, encourages independent learning and builds confidence.

YASS is designed to bridge the gap between school and full-time university and help able and motivated students stand out from the crowd. Over 500 young people from more than 100 schools took Open University modules last year.

YASS is a unique opportunity for S6 students in Scottish schools to bridge the gap between school and full-time university through independent learning. Run by The Open University in Scotland, YASS offers motivated and able students a chance to study a range of university level modules in school alongside their other studies. Language options are available in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Chinese.


University modern language courses easier to get on than five years ago

8 May 2015 (The Guardian)

A student’s chances of getting into a leading university to study languages have increased in the past five years, as interest dwindles and applications plummet, new figures suggest.

At Cambridge University, applications to study European languages dropped from 580 in 2010 to 385 in 2014, meaning students now have a 44.2% chance of getting a place compared with 28.4% in 2010.

At King’s College London there were 1,165 applications and 150 acceptances in 2010, an acceptance rate of 12.9%. In 2014 there were 575 applications and 125 acceptances, taking the rate up to to 21.7%.

There is growing concerns among academics, politicians and business leaders about the decline in modern languages in England’s schools and universities, and fears that more courses in sixth forms and higher education institutions will be forced to close.


European universities ‘hobbled’ by language laws

7 May 2015 (THE)

Rector at Maastricht University fears that curbs on using English are preventing some institutions from innovating and internationalising.

[..]Professor Soete added that English has become the common language for research. However, all foreign students at Maastricht can also take an optional Dutch language course, alongside their main subject, as part of a target to encourage 22 per cent of them to stay in the Netherlands region after graduating. About 85 per cent of all foreign students now take basic Dutch lessons.

“If a French-speaking student studies in Belgium, they will leave their degree unilingual which means it will be difficult for them to get a job in Belgium itself,” he said.

“But if they go to Maastricht they can become a perfect English speaker, still hold on to their native language and learn Dutch by integrating with the community. That’s why we’re seeing a significant increase in the number of French-speaking students. Other Dutch universities are moving in the same direction.”


QS world university rankings 2015: modern languages

29 April 2015 (The Guardian)

The top 100 universities in the world for modern languages, as ranked by higher education data specialists QS. Oxford and Cambridge top the rankings, with the University of Edinburgh reaching 26th in the listing.

The University of Edinburgh also came 3rd in the listing for linguistics.


Related Links

QS world university rankings 2015: Linguistics (The Guardian, 29 April 2015)

Good news for language learning: UCML and AULC publish the annual report on take-up of Institution Wide Language Programmes

2 March 2015 (UCML/AULC)

Each year the Association of University Language Centres in the UK and Ireland conduct a survey to explore the take up of Institution-Wide Language Programmes (for credit and not for credit) in UK universities.

UCML co-publishes this report with AULC and support from the Higher Education Academy. The report from this year's survey (conducted in autumn 2014) is now published.

It includes analysis of various trends (by language, by balance of credit and not etc) across the sector.

It is clear from this report that the trend continues to be for increasing demand for language learning in HE alongside the study of other disciplines.


Year-abroad students say universities don't offer enough support

15 December 2014 (The Guardian)

Erasmus, the student exchange scheme for the EU, celebrated a record number of participants this year and launched its expanded Erasmus+ programme. But despite the popularity of international study, some students say universities are providing insufficient mental health support to those living abroad.


University to promote Gaelic language on campuses

20 October 2014 (Scotsman)

The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) has announced new plans to promote Gaelic at its 13 centres.


Campus close-up: University of Wales Trinity Saint David

16 October 2014 (THE)

Institution incentivises students to learn their native tongue as it delivers dual language courses.


'I miss the patisserie, boulangerie and steak - but France isn't that far…'

14 October 2014 (Guardian)

Meet Vidipt, a student from France, the home of around 2.8% of all international students at UK universities.


QS world rankings 2014: modern languages

5 August 2014 (The Guardian)

The top 100 universities in the world for modern languages, as ranked by higher education data specialists QS.


Related Links

QS world rankings 2014: linguistics (The Guardian, 5 August 2014)

Classics example: any answers for modern languages’ decline?

12 June 2014 (THE)

Modern languages departments and scholars should look at how Classics has reinvented itself since the 1980s in order to boost its appeal to undergraduates, a scholar has argued.
It success was reflected, noted Roderick Beaton, Koraes professor of modern Greek and Byzantine history, language and culture at King’s College London, in “a large enough undergraduate cohort in over 20 higher education institutions to sustain a robust and internationally envied research culture”.

His argument was among many at a debate held at the British Academy on 27 May on the study of languages in the UK, which discussed the dramatic decline of modern languages in the nation’s higher education sector, the implications for employment and security, and strategies for reversing the trend.


Annual survey of Institution Wide Language Programme take-up in UK universities

11 February 2014 (UCML)

The report from the annual survey of Institution Wide Language Programme take-up in UK universities has now been published. The responses indicate an increase in numbers of students enrolled on such programmes nationally, even taking into account a slight increase in the number of universities responding this year.


Language graduates: what jobs are they doing now?

16 October 2013 (The Guardian)

From international aid to banking, social media and teaching, language graduates end up across all career sectors.


Languages on ice: fluency or floe – which will it be?

8 October 2013 (The Guardian)

It is a paradox of British higher education that our international profile has never been more important, yet fewer universities are offering language degrees. No wonder the government is worried that British graduates will be unable to make it in the global environment. Are we sleepwalking into tongue-tied isolation?


UK still suffers trips of the tongues

29 August 2013 (THE Letters)

Your editorial “A timely look under the bonnet” (22 August) is right to draw attention to the issue of language degrees, but one of the figures was inaccurate. As of 23 August, the number of students starting a language degree was not down by 13 per cent but by less than 0.5 per cent.


Key Findings: Languages in further and higher education

19 August 2013 (Language Rich Europe blog)

Language Rich Europe research provides a rich source of cross-national insights into multilingualism across the education sectors. You can browse all of the national/ regional profiles or simply focus on further and higher education by reading on.


University guide 2014: league table for modern languages and linguistics

4 June 2013 (The Guardian)

The table includes French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, south Asian, African, Australasian, modern Middle Eastern languages, literature and linguistics.


Third-year Modern Languages' Exhibition

17 April 2013 (HaSS - Strathclyde University)

Come and Visit the Exhibition of the Third-year Modern Languages' Projects which is being held in the McCance Conservatory from the 16 April 2013 until 4pm on Friday 26 April 2013.

As part of their 2nd semester project, students of Modern Languages, working in teams, have produced displays on various themes exploring linguistic and cultural aspects of France, Italy and Spain.

See the attached flyer or email Caroline Verdier for more information.  All welcome. 

Related Files

The University of Glasgow announce Gaelic plan

13 March 2013 (The Scotsman)

A leading university has pledged to use Gaelic as part of its day-to-day functions to help secure the language’s long-term future. The University of Glasgow said, under its five-year Gaelic language plan, communications, staffing matters and publications would now be done in Gaelic alongside English.


Related Links

Non-Scots boost university Gaelic (The Herald, 13 March 2013)

Difficulties in expanding language provision

7 December 2012 (The Herald)

Expanding the study of languages at Scottish universities is proving difficult to achieve, a report by funding chiefs says.


Foreign language skills 'cost Scottish businesses'

27 November 2012 (BBC News)

A widespread lack of language skills could be damaging Scotland's ability to trade abroad, a report has suggested.  The British Council study warned there was a tendency among Scottish firms to limit their export markets to English-speaking countries.


Related Links

Fears raised for overseas trade as young Scots shy away from studying foreign languages (The Scotsman, 27 November 2012)
A crisis in foreign language teaching across Scottish education is damaging overseas trade, the British Council warns today.

Analysis: Speaking the lingo goes to prove that it’s not only travel that broadens the mind (The Scotsman, 27 November 2012)

Leaders: Greater language skills key to breaking trade barriers (The Scotsman, 27 November 2012)

Crisis in study of languages a risk to trade (The Herald, 27 November 2012)
A lack of foreign language skills is limiting the ability of Scottish companies to tap into lucrative overseas export markets, according to a new report.

Kaye asks why Scots are so bad at learning foreign languages (Call Kaye, BBC Radio Scotland, 27 November 2012) - programme available until 3 December 2012.

Trade danger of language teaching cuts (Scottish Daily Express, 27 November 2012)

Language cuts 'will hit Scottish economy' (Morning Star, 27 November 2012)

Language Rich Europe - Scotland (British Council, 2012)

Free courses – now that's a language students understand

27 November 2012 (The Guardian)

Languages may be in decline at A-level and degree; but more young people are taking classes in their spare time – especially if they don't have to pay.


Related Links

University students: How to learn a language for free (The Guardian, 27 November 2012).
See what's on offer at your university and find alternative ways to brush up on a foreign language.

Languages and Entrepreneurship. A Guide for Students

21 November 2012 (Higher Education Academy)

The time spent studying, working or volunteering abroad during a degree programme is an excellent opportunity to identify and start up a new business. However, too few students are aware of entrepreneurship before or during their international placement.

This report shows that students who speak foreign languages, travel and understand other cultures have a unique entrepreneurial opportunity. It encourages students to look at placements abroad in a more critical and innovative way, to be aware of business opportunities and to make use of the start-up support, networks and services available when starting a business.


GCU and OU partnership provides free language lessons for staff

20 November 2012 (Open University)

In a unique partnership arrangement with the Open University (OU), Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) have provided their postgraduate students and their staff with the opportunity to study an OU language module in French, German, Spanish or Chinese. 82 GCU students and staff began beginners’ language modules in October, and more will sign up for higher level language modules starting in February. The face-to-face element of the OU tuition programme is being delivered on GCU’s Glasgow campus at times that fit with GCU’s timetable.

Glasgow Caledonian University places importance on the fact that language competence enhances employability and international mobility and values the Open University’s proven track record in language teaching.


Modern languages lost for words over low intake

15 November 2012 (THE)

Two UK language departments may be forced to close their degree programmes because they recruited too few students for 2012-13, a lecturers' association has claimed.


Baroness Coussins speaks about MFL and Erasmus scheme in House of Lords

12th October 2012 (LLAS news blog)

My Lords, I shall focus on what the report says about student mobility in relation to the Erasmus scheme and the teaching and learning of modern foreign languages.


University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages