HE languages

Information and statistics on languages in HE can be found here. This page also includes information on policy developments in respect of study abroad / outward mobility

New reports on language teaching in degree programmes and IWLP

  • 28 July 2017: a report on the practices of the Residence Abroad is now available to view (see menu on the right). The report reveals that, although RA practices such as grade conversion systems and credits and grades allocations may vary widely between different HEIs, some common trends can be nevertheless identified.
  • 12 April 2017. The yearly language survey on Istitution-Wide Language Programmes has just been published and authored, amongst others, by our AULC / UCML rep Caroline Campbell. The report shows that demand for IWLP language courses continue to be on the rise, which is very good news. For the first time, the survey also collected data on the conditions of employment of language tutors nationally. The full report can be accessed from the right of this page.
  • May 2017: UCML-AULC publishes results from the yearly survey of Institution-Wide Language Provision in Higher Education Institutions in the UK (2016-17). The report points to an increase in numbers of students who choose to study a language as 'non-specialists'. To access the full report click here.
  • 5 April 2016: following on from the original language teaching report for French, German, Italian, and Spanish, we have now produced a new report for the Less-Widely Taught Languages. This report surveys contact hours, credit loads, health of the discipline, progression routes, and other areas of interest for European and World languages taught within named degree programmes. This makes interesting reading and could be helpful to Heads of Department in making the case for contact time, credit loads and number of admissions. It is available to download from the right of this page.

Useful sources of statistics re languages in HE

N.B. A level statistics are on the primary/secondary languages section.

  • 13 July 2017: UCAS has released data regarding UK and overseas applications for full-time undergraduate courses at Higher Education Institutions for the June 2017 deadline. Overall, nationally there is a drop in applications on last year’s figures by -4% across all subjects. Whilst figures for our Q, R, and T groups mirror the national decrease (-5.41%), some good signals come from gender breakdown figures where Women's applications for group T for both all domiciles and EU applications with an increase of 2% and 8% respectively. Group Q for non-EU applications also shows an encouraging increase of 1.05% on last year's figures. The full UCAS data can be accessed here. To read a digest of the UCAS data, please see the document at the top of the page on the right.

  • June 2017: UCML sent a letter to both the UCAS Executive Director and the UCAS Chair asking for further granularity in the presentation of data regarding Joint Honours degrees which include a Modern Foreign Language in the tile. The full letter can be seen in the menu on the right.

  • April 2017: UCAS have now published their 2017 Applications statistics for the March deadline covering applicant age, sex, country, and subject. At this stage data for us remain quite general and we will have to wait for the inline data in July/August to gain a fuller picture of our single subjects. Unfortunately, overall this set of data points to another loss for our Q, R, and T subject groups compared to last year. In particular, Q has gone down by -5%, R by -7% and T by -6%. The full figures can be accessed here: https://www.ucas.com/file/98991/download?token=y3HcduEi  
    However, when looking at the figures on ‘Subjects by sex’, interestingly women for all domiciles have had a 1% rise for group T (Non-European Langs, Lit & related). Conversely, the same data for men indicates a loss of -18% in group T which is seen to experience the highest loss of all three men groups. If we look at the stats for EU applicants (excluding the UK), again figures for the T group for women applicants are the only ones on the rise on last year’s data by 6% whereas applications for men in the T group have had a sharp decline (-38%) bringing this particular group in line with the same figures as 2013 and 2014. When looking at applications from non-EU applicants, interestingly men in the Q group feature a rise of 16% on 2016 whereas women record a small decline (-3%) for the same subject group.   The full data profile can be accessed here: https://www.ucas.com/file/99006/download?token=6q56gd59
  • February 2017: UCAS has published the first set of data regarding UK undergraduate applications for the 2017 cycle. The data show figures for the main subject groups; details of the single subjects will be available later in the year. Unfortunately, figures for our Q, R, and T groups have decreased by a few points on last year’s data. Group Q is down by -6%, group R by -8% and group T by -5% respectively. The full set of figures can be accessed through the UCAS website: https://www.ucas.com/corporate/data-and-analysis/ucas-undergraduate-releases/2017-cycle-applicant-figures-%E2%80%93-january-deadline.When looking at the applicants profiles, data continue to suggest that the majority of students taking up one of our subjects are female. Interestingly, two thirds of all applicants for the Q, R, and T groups are female (59,240) and one third are male (19,340).
  • 19 December 2016: UCAS published data for the end-of-year acceptances cycle for 2016. Although overall the trend for language acceptances continues to decrease (-8% overall on last year), there are some positive signals coming from some of the languagues. The full statistics can be accessed here. We have read the data and published a digest for both Single Honours and Combinations of Languages on the right-hand side of the menu. As usual, data for Single Honours have to be taken with a pinch of salt since they relate, in most cases, to small numbers of students.  In summary, French, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Japanese have experienced a fall on last year's figures, whereas Spanish, the Middle Eastern languages and Scandinavian Studies are reporting a growth (the latter by some 50%). However, when looking at the overall data over a ten-year period, more positive figures can be extracted for Spanish, Chinese and Japanese who continue to enjoy stable growth nationally. However, unfortunately Combinations of European languages have lost -27% in acceptances in the last ten years.
  • 14 July 2016: UCAS HE applications data cycle for June deadline. Today UCAS has published the latest data  on HE applications for all subject groups. Our groups of interest, unfortunately, continue to show a decrease in applications on last year's figures. In particular, group Q (Linguistics, Classics and related) has had a drop of -3%, whereas both the R (European Langs, Lit and related) and T (Non-European Langs, Lit and related) groups registered a -6% decrease. The various combinations in group Y (Arts combined with another subject) have seen drops between -3% and -10%. However, additional figures for applications from the rest of Europe (excluding the UK) are showing an interesting trend with considerable increases for both the Q and T groups (+7% and +15% respectively). Group Y also enjoys an increase in applications ranging from +1% to +12%. Group R instead sees a -7% decrease in demand for HE applications. Other figures for non-EU applications show a large increase for group T (+28%) and decreases in applications for groups Q, R, and Y (-4%, -5%, -1/-8% respectively). The full range of data can be seen here.
  • January 2016: The Higher Education Academy has just published a summary report for the Teaching and Learning Issues in the Disciplines project in which it identifies key themes and issues arising from higher education academics across the range of subjects including languages. The aim of the project was to best understand the sector’s needs from a discipline perspective, and to determine how best to work with professional and learned bodies to meet those needs. Languages were represented in three focus groups held in Manchester, Newcastle and London in the summer of 2015. The full summary can be accessed here.
  • January 2016: UCAS has now published their end-of-year cycle acceptance data for all subjects for 2015. The full document can be accessed here.

Across the sector there was a 3.8% rise on 2014.

We have extracted the statistics for all degrees involving languages and linguistics and attach the data file on the right-hand side of the menu, but the headline based on these is that our disciplines have suffered a 7% drop on 2014. Some caution needs to be expressed about the data, as some of the Y category combinations may not actually involve a language but, for example, another arts/humanities subject combined with a science. The individual languages listed in the R group also only refer to single honours and as we know, the majority of languages students are taking a combination of more than one language or a language combined with another subject. Thus we should not focus too much on the single honours figures, though there are some alarming drops in some of the combination figures too. Meanwhile there are increases, for example, in

  • R9 Others in European languages, lit & related : up 25%
  • T2 Japanese studies : up 52% (but from a low base)
  • T9 Others in non-European languages, lit & related : up 27% (very small numbers)
  • Y Combs of social studies/bus/law with languages : up 8

We have also provided separate charts for both Single Honours subjects and Combinations of subjects for an easier visual access. The Higher Education Statistical Agency is due to publish their data next week on 14 January 2016.

  • HEFCE has published an update on the document 'Higher Education in England: Key facts' for 2015. The most relevant news for Languages (pp. 21-22 of the document) is that the sharp decline in students signing up for a full-time degree in Modern Languages is stable. Encouragingly, the small 2012-13 decline has been met with an increase of 4.8% on the overall figure for 2013-14. Unfortunately, however, the number of part-time students registering to study Modern Languages in HE continues to decline. The review also highlights that the reliance on overseas staff and students in minority modern foreign languages may pose additional and significant risks to an already vulnerable set of disciplines, such as African and Asian languages. The entire document can also be downloaded from the panel on the right.
  • UCAS applications statistics for the March 2015 deadline have been published and show a small increase in all our subject areas.
  • HESA latest statistics on Subjects of Degree Studies over a 7-year trend period (2007-2014) were published in February 2015. Overall, unfortunately Languages was the largest subject area to see a fall in student numbers. There was also a drop in the number of entrants for degrees in Foreign Languages (-6%), with some languages hit worse than others. For a digest of language-specific data, see document in the panel on the right.
  • UCAS statistics for the 2014 cycle: UCAS have now published (January 2015) the full end-of-cycle applications/acceptances data by detailed subject line for the 2014 cycle; these data are presented in an accessible way, also showing trends over time, and are accessible via the panel on the right; the January 2014 interim deadline statistics were published on 31/01/2014. A digest and relevant links were published as a UCML news item and unfortunately show a further drop in most of our subject areas.
  • HEFCE Data about supply and demand based on entrants, total enrolments etc by subject area: this is an extremely useful interactive site enabling us to look at data over the years and to map it against other subject areas, broken down to individual language areas or languages as a whole.
  • Demand for full-time undergraduate higher education  UCAS end of cycle report for 2013 on applications and admissions to HE. This can be downloaded here. The statistics for JACS codes R (European Languages) and T (non European Languages) should be read alongside those for combined degrees which include a language and another subject.
  • HEFCE report on the impact of 2012 reforms on HE funding in England: includes graphic representation on impact on languages in HE and a short case study from UCML.
  • UCAS application statistics 2012-13: Scroll down to table 6 for breakdown by subject areas. Click on link underneath for further breakdown e.g. by language to see change from last year's application round.
  • UCAS application statistics 2011-12: (as above)
  • HESA statistics on students in HEIs : Scroll down to tables by subject areas or download spreadsheets by subject; view also data on widening participation and regions etc.
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A summary of the current state of languages in HE (as presented by Jim Coleman in his last public act as Chair of UCML, to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Languages in December 2013) is available to download from the right. (Powerpoint and handout).

Report on language teaching in degree programmes

December 2014: The Executive Committee representative for 'specialist' language teaching, Elena Polisca, has produced a report on the basis of a survey of contact hours, credit loads and progression routes through the main 'European' languages taught within named degree programmes. This makes interesting reading and could be helpful to Heads of Department in making the case for contact time and credit loads. It is available to download from the right of this page.

LLAS/UCML/AULC Biennial conference on HE languages

The 7th in this series of conferences, this one entitled Reshaping Languages in HE, took place in Southampton on 9th-10th July 2014. UCML supported this one again financially and was represented on the organising committee. The UCML Chair provided the opening keynote talk. See: https://www.llas.ac.uk/reshapinglanguages2014 for this and other presentations at the conference and tweets on the main themes by the UCML Vice Chair for External Communications.

Institution-wide language teaching and learning in UK HEIs

UCML, in collaboration with the Association of University Language Centres (AULC) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA) is committed to mapping the language teaching and learning activity not captured by UCAS and HESA statistics. To this end, surveys conducted in 2014, 2013 and 2012 into IWLP numbers have been published, and are available to be downloaded from the right of this page.

British Academy on HE languages

Born Global: Rethinking Language Policy for 21st Century Britain is a policy research project into the extent and nature of language needs in the labour market of massive importance to HE languages

 

Languages: The State of the Nation report by the British Academy (14th February 2013) raises further concerns from the continued drop in applicants to study languages in HE in a comprehensive survey of issues of supply and demand for languages and their impact. Go to the BA website or download the full report from the right of this page.

Previous publications of great relevance include: Valuing the Year Abroad (2012) and the Language Matters series of position papers (downloadable from this page).

Support for teaching languages and related studies in HE

New QAA Benchmark Statement on Languages, Cultures and Societies (2015) - this is a revised benchmark statement of relevance to degrees in languages across multiple JACS codes

The Higher Education Academy (HEA) runs events of interest to the HE community and provides funding for the development of teaching and learning.

LLAS (formerly the HEA Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies) at the University of Southampton has a long track record in supporting teaching and learning across our disciplines. It continues to organise events of interest to the HE community and its website is rich in resources gathered over the years.

The  Association of University Language Centres (AULC)'s Special Interest Group meetings and Annual General Meeting and Conference are based around the sharing of information and good practice, particularly related to technology supported pedagogy.

The European Confederation of University Language Centres (CercleS) organises biennial conferences and publishes a refereed journal: Language Learning in Higher Education.

The Delphi site at the University of Birmingham provides web based modules for training HE language teachers - originally designed for graduate teaching assistants and lectors - valuable for all practitioners.

The INTENT project team announced in March 2013 that the www.unicollaboration.eu platform is now officially open to practitioners from universities around the world. The platform will allow university educators and students mobility coordinators to find partner-classes and resources for their online intercultural exchange projects and initiatives. There are also training materials for those who want to learn more about telecollaboration. The platform has been developed with the financing of the European Commission's Lifelong Learning project INTENT (http://www.scoop.it/t/intent-project-news). You can view a short guided tour of the platform here: http://youtu.be/rzKK5A-9fUM

The HEA have published a survey into the use of telecollaboration and international online collaboration tools available for download here.

The year abroad / outward mobility

  • November 2016: A study that makes the case for the validity of the Erasmus+ programme has been published. The study reinforces the belief that the Erasmus+ programme bring students a set of qualities that potentially make them more employable and that cannot be learnt by studying in one's home country alone. The study claims that losing the Erasmus+ programme as a potential consequence of Brexit would be detrimental to the personal and academic development and employability of our home students.The study was conducted by surveying a number of students of German at Warwick and Cambridge universities about their year abroad experience by Silke Mentchen (Cambridge) and Andrea Klaus (Warwick).
  • February 2016: The European Commission has released an interesting report on the Erasmus scheme and mobility: The Erasmus Impact Study: Regional Analysis analyses the regional trends in the effects of student mobility under the Erasmus programme on employability, skills,careers and social lives. This report follows on from the original 2014 Erasmus Impact Study report. Another interesting and informative report by the European Commission is the 2014 Erasmus: Facts, Figures and Trends which contains data and tables relating to mobility for both student and staff exchanges. 
  • The Go International website is an excellent source of information for all things relating to HE mobility. The Gone International: Mobile Students and their Outcomes report from 2015 provides a national outline of which students go abroad, where they go and considers what currently available data can tell us about the initial outcomes of international experience as part of a UK undergraduate programme.
  • November 2015: UCML has carried out a survey regarding the fees charged by different HEIs for the Year Abroad part of a conventional degree course in Modern languages. Results reveal that most institutions charge their students 15% of a full year's fees, in line with HEFCE's model of fee cap regulation. To read more about the survey, click on the link at the top of the right-hand side of this page.
  • Student Perspectives on going international. The UK Higher Education International Unit’s Go International programme and the British Council published a report in September 2015 on student perspectives of the benefits of and barriers to spending time abroad as part of a UK undergraduate degree.  The research aims to provide evidence for UK higher education institutions and policy makers who are developing and implementing initiatives to increase the number of UK-domiciled students accessing international opportunities.
  • International Unit : UK strategy on outward mobility. Following the work of the UUK working group on outward mobility, chaired by Prof Colin Riordan (then VC of Essex, now VC of Cardiff), the International Unit launched a national outward mobility strategy in December 2013. The strategy has support of all the nation governments and funding from HEFCE and BIS. Members may find this useful to refer to when making the case for internationalisation strategies (including more outward mobility) in their own universities.
  • ThirdYearAbroad.com : Students providing support to each other, through social networking and exchanging intelligence on the experience and its benefits. The graduate case studies (searchable by university) are particularly useful for illustrating our own students' experiences and how these have influenced their lives and careers. They have recently developed a careers launchpad to highlight the benefits of study abroad to career pathways.
  • The rationale for sponsoring students to undertake international study: an assessment of national
    student mobility scholarship programmes.
    Report by British Council/DAAD 2014. Downloadable to the right of this page.
  • Outward mobility statistics: 'Still growing after all these years: outward student mobility in the United Kingdom 2007-8 to 2011-12 report by Joan-Anton Carbonell available to download above/right.
  • See also the British Academy report: Valuing the Year Abroad - available to download above/right

 

 

Employer surveys of graduate skills

The CBI/Pearson annual surveys of members' opinions about graduate (and school leaver) skills regularly highlight demand for (and dissatisfaction with) language and intercultural skills. Read the 2013 survey Changing the Pace .

The British Chambers of Commerce publish regular reports and surveys, including the June 2013 Survey Factsheet: Exporting is Good for Britain but Knowledge Gaps and Language Skills hold back Exporters in which there is a call for languages to become compulsory as a core subject in the National Curriculum up to AS level.

For more employability related resources see our Shaping the Future project pages