Students are not applying for Modern Foreign Languages. A recent report published by HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) indicated that the number of students taking a language degree is at the lowest level in a decade, with the number of students being accepted onto full-time modern foreign language courses dropped by nearly a quarter (22%) between the academic years 2010-11 and 2012-13.
But companies want languages graduates. The demand for a workforce with language and intercultural skills has been widely demonstrated by the UK business community. The CBI’s Education and Skills Survey 2012 reports that 72% of companies surveyed value foreign languages skills among employees, particularly for building relationships with clients, customers and suppliers (39%). As many as one-fifth are concerned that weaknesses in foreign language proficiency are losing them business and, among these, 52% are looking to recruit staff with the requisite skills.
Why study languages?
In the face of the rising costs of higher education and the difficult prospect of finding graduate level employment is it possible that students are not seeing the study of modern foreign languages as a means to a job and therefore abandoning it in favour of a more vocational or in demand degree subject?
As a languages graduate myself, I would advocate to anyone who wants to study languages to do so. I have derived years of pleasure from being able to speak another language, understanding and learning other cultures and believe it has made me a broader minded person, enhanced my communication skills and taught me understanding and tolerance of different ideas, cultures and beliefs. Surely valuable skills to any employer whether their business has an international focus or not?
Scholarships for languages
Whilst scholarships for modern languages are not nearly as numerous as they are for other subjects, there are still some around. If you are interested in studying for a degree in foreign languages here are some scholarships which may help you on your way.
Modern Foreign Languages Year Abroad Scholarship
This scholarship is for students taking a Modern Foreign Language degree. It is a tuition fee waiver for the £1,275 you would ordinarily pay during your compulsory study abroad year.
Humanities & Social Sciences Scholarship – Newcastle University
Amount awarded varies dependant on your grades. New entrants to the university studying one of the specified subjects.
Virtus Bursary – University College London
You must hold an offer of admission to UCL to study a full-time modern languages degree; preference will be given to students studying German or Scandanavian; you must be able to demonstrate financial need
Southampton Merit Scholarship – University of Southampton
£1,000 a year offered to students studying for all undergraduate programmes in Modern Languages and the MLang course, providing they achieve AAA at A Level or equivalent.
Erasmus Scholarship Programme
The Erasmus programme, the premier scheme for students throughout the EU who wish to study abroad, comes with a series of possible scholarships that are designed to aid the students in getting the placement they want.