Two Nobel Prize winners criticize Welsh university’s planned cuts in its modern languages programme (Wales)

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Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
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Italian to English
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Swansea cuts Oct 4, 2010

I actually did my MA in Translation at Swansea and can testify to the excellence of the staff there. Moreover, before my career change three years ago, I was an MFL Lecturer at a Further Education College, and a good number of my students attended Swansea and are now highly successful linguists.
However, what is happening at Swansea is merely a reflection of what is happening generally in the UK with respect to MFL education. During the 12 years when I was in my last post, language provision was eroded. Because classes were numbers-driven in the race to attract finance, small classes were not deemed viable. Despite efforts to keep languages alive, I watched my colleagues leave one by one. I was the only full-time lecturer left from an initial staff of 5, part-time lecturers dropped from 12 to 2, and the College stopped paying for Foreign Language Assistants entirely.
This will continue to happen while language learning is disadvantaged by:
- being viewed as difficult and irrelevant by students (i.e.'They all speak English anyway' syndrome)
- an education funding system which pays for 'bums on seats' rather than investment in addressing skills shortages
- having to compete against 'soft' subjects with no 'material benefit' for the student, e.g. no extra points for university access or bursaries
- educational institutions actively discouraging language learning in favour of subjects more likely to attract higher grades.

In the end I was unable to continue in that environment and there is now no full-time provision in my old College at all.

As for Swansea University, they have previous form in this kind of thing. A few years ago they closed all of their undergraduate Chemistry courses for much the same reasons (i.e. 'streamlining'). That decision, like this one, was criticised by Nobel prize winners. to no avail.

Let's hope this campaign meets with more success.


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Two Nobel Prize winners criticize Welsh university’s planned cuts in its modern languages programme (Wales)

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