The Linguist

The Linguist 54,2

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 19 of 35

FEATURES Anne Marie Graham looks at a new programme aiming to encourage more UK students to study abroad Recent data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows a further drop in the number of students enrolled on language programmes at UK universities. Cue articles in the press bemoaning the lack of language skills in the UK population, and a series of below-the-line comments stating that British people don't need to learn a foreign language because 'everyone else speaks English'. Statistics don't always paint the full picture. Figures from the Association of University Language Centres (AULC) demonstrate that more students than ever are studying a language at university. They're just not doing a language degree. Instead the growth is via Institution-Wide Language Programmes. So the picture is not all doom and gloom. The question is whether the change in how languages are being studied at university is affecting the number of students who go abroad as part of their higher education (HE). A significant proportion of students from UK universities who participate in the European Commission- funded Erasmus+ mobility programme are on language programmes, yet participation increased from 10,251 in 2007/8 to 14,607 in 2012/13 – the period which saw the biggest decline in language enrolments. Meanwhile, the high quality of the UK undergraduate and postgraduate sectors attracts students from all over the world, who benefit from the international experience. With the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) estimating that there are 15 international students in the UK for every British student studying abroad, the imbalance creates a worrying trend. Will British students be able to compete on a level playing field in the international job market? Recognising the importance of international experience for HE students, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills initially waived year-abroad fees, then capped them at £1,500. Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University and Chair of the UK Higher Education International Unit (IU), led a subsequent review of outward student mobility. The chief recommendation of the 2012 Riordan Review was that the HE sector in the UK needed a coordinated strategy to help drive take-up of outward student mobility. In July 2013, the Government tasked the IU with developing and implementing a UK Strategy for Outward Mobility. Its vision is to facilitate an increase in the proportion of UK domiciled students who undertake international placements as part of their undergraduate, postgraduate and research programmes, and to help to address institutional barriers to participation in outward mobility in HE. Funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce), with political Go international The imbalance creates a worrying trend. Will British students be able to compete on a level playing field?

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