The last 10 years has seen a significant drop in language courses. Compared to 105 universities offering language courses in the year 2000, only 62 universities did so in the academic year 2013/14. Russell Group universities, such as the University of Birmingham (UoB), may be becoming the only universities to teach languages according to Katrin […]

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The last 10 years has seen a significant drop in language courses. Compared to 105 universities offering language courses in the year 2000, only 62 universities did so in the academic year 2013/14.

'the pipeline of students coming through prepared to do a language with appropriate GCSEs and A-levels is reducing'

Russell Group universities, such as the University of Birmingham (UoB), may be becoming the only universities to teach languages according to Katrin Kohl, professor of German at Jesus College, Oxford and director of the Oxford German Network. But high grade requirements for these courses make it so only the very best linguists can pursue language degrees.

Around the country, 50% less places are offering German degrees, 43% for French and 22% for Spanish. At Birmingham, the university offered 231 places on language courses in 2004 compared to 160 in 2012. The drop in applicants has however been much lower, with roughly 1,200 applications for single honours language courses in 2004, compared to roughly 1,150 in 2012.

Although many blame this on the scraping of a compulsory language GCSE in 2004, University of Birmingham’s language department points out that there wasn’t a fall in A level language courses until 2011/12.

What does 'MOMD' mean:

Some courses allow students to take a module outside of their main subject-Module Outside of Main Discipline. This is supposed to broader students' degrees, at least in first year.

But this isn’t down to a lack of interest in studying languages as the number of MOMD language courses being taken by students at the University of Birmingham have increased by 30% since last year. This allows students to reach GCSE standard or conversational standard within a year or A-level standard within 2 years. Therefore language take up is seeing a less dramatic fall than figures suggest.

Nationally, the study of non-European languages has however seen a rise. However this is not the case at Birmingham as non- European language intakes dropped from 363 in 2008 to 194 in 2012.

In a statement to Redbrick, the UoB language department stated its views that an increase in employability awareness would stop this downward trend and encourage more people to take languages at A level and degree level. They also added that ‘the underlying issue is that the pipeline of students coming through prepared to do a language with appropriate GCSEs and A-levels is reducing.’

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