Does Nottingham ‘dumb down’ language degrees?

Oct 22

An article in the Guardian yesterday presented claims that universities have been ‘dumbing down’ language degrees in an attempt to attract new students. The news comes from a report ordered by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce).

Figures show that this year there has been a 5%  drop in students taking language courses in the last 5 years and many departments have been forced to close due to a lack of funding.

At Nottingham University we have a large language centre with courses including Modern Standard Arabic, German and Modern Greek. Professor Catherine Davies is head of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures and I asked her what she thought of the claims that Language degrees were being diluted:

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Part of the reason behind these claims is that cultural studies modules can be included in a language degree. These are taught in English, is this right for a foreign language degree?

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Students have modules in older forms of the language and so are taught using English translations, is this necessary?

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Finally, has there been a decrease in the number of students applying for modern language courses here at Nottingham?

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Other universities have not been so successful in recruiting applicants onto their language courses. Earlier this year Leicester University had to cut courses in German and The University of West England (UWE) in Bristol scrapped some of it’s language degrees and is now considering closing its department of languages, linguistics and area studies.

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