Falling national student demand affects modern languages

Issue date: 23 June 2009

University of the West of England Despite application rates at the University of the West of England being up 14% and excellent rated teaching quality in modern languages, UWE has received only 39 acceptances for degrees in modern language provision this year.

The low student numbers over the years and the need to provide wide provision has meant UWE has had to subsidise language provision by around £1m annually at the expense of other student and course investment.

UWE will be ceasing recruitment to three half degrees in French, Spanish and Chinese Studies, but maintaining its popular provision in Linguistics, English Language and at masters level, Translation, where student demand is buoyant and the research record strong. The changes follow a 12 month comprehensive review process involving external and internal staff, discussions at Academic Board and the Board of Governors and taking into account student numbers over the last 3 years.

Current students on closing half degrees will be fully supported for the remainder of their studies and the decision to stop 2009 intakes will not impact on their studies or the value of their UWE Degree.

Admissions have made personal contact with each of the 39 prospective students who were interested in UWE and studying languages. Of these 29 are interested in alternative study options at UWE. The others have still to decide or are pursuing their studies at their insurance choice. In all cases UWE is committed to supporting them to find the best option for their future studies.

Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor said, “I do not believe we are in the same position as other universities since we have had the financial resources and managed to scale back over the years thus pre-empting large scale cuts in provision. The only way we can protect jobs is to keep ahead of changes in the marketplace.”

“The University still regard languages as important, especially in an international employment environment where graduates will have to have an understanding of other languages and cultures. Language provision, adapted to student demand, will continue at UWE for those students on UWE's other undergraduate and postgraduate courses wishing to have a language to help them be more employable.

“It is important that universities acknowledge the need to continually review and refresh their academic offer. We will need to continually balance new growth against potential decline in areas where the market is failing. The University and Higher Education in general is moving into very challenging times and we will need to be very market and customer aware if we are to enhance and develop the University.

“We are still committed to the values and importance of languages. It is just that there are too few students who wish to study languages in their current form nationally and regionally. Our commitment to direct support for schools is to address this at the root of the problem and get more students interested in languages. Currently there is too much supply in degree language teaching relative to the numbers that wish to study it at degree level. We are continuing to offer language teaching for all our students. We are also continuing to support interest in languages within local and regional schools.”

The University has seen a dramatic rise in student applications this year for language teaching with nearly 100 applications for primary and secondary language teaching courses.


Note to editors
39 acceptances compares to 6,000 acceptances each year across the University's 300 courses

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