Extra funding to bolster modern languages

A project to increase the number of students doing languages at university has been awarded an extra £1.2 million.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has allocated the additional cash to the Routes into Languages project, which sends student ambassadors into schools to encourage children to study modern languages beyond the age of 14.

The programme, which is led by University of Southampton’s Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, also organizes sixth-form events and access activities such as linking languages with sport and film.

It is run through nine regional consortia of universities throughout England and was set up with a £4.5 million Hefce grant in 2006, which was followed by Department of Education funding worth £3.5 million in 2007.

The extra cash, which follows grants worth £2 million over the past two years, will allow the scheme to continue until July 2012.

Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of Hefce, said: “Languages are vital for the social and economic future of the country and graduates with language skills make a major contribution to the UK economy in an ever-changing global context.

“This additional funding demonstrates our ongoing commitment to supporting modern foreign languages and I hope that it will enable the Routes initiative to build on the many benefits it has brought for schools, colleges, universities and students.”

An independent evaluation of the programme published in May concluded it had been successful in establishing partnerships and collaboration between higher education institutions and schools.

It also found it had been successful in raising pupils’ motivation and interest in languages,

Mike Kelly, professor of French at Southampton and director of the scheme, said the funding boost “will be welcomed by universities and schools across the country and confirms the recognition that languages are a matter of strategic importance.”

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

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