Securing the future of languages

A message from Professor Peter Lambert, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching):

High quality provision of foreign languages for our students is key to University’s strategic focus on enhancing the undergraduate and postgraduate student experience, encouraging skills development, and supporting an internationally-facing University community.

We are very proud of our language provision. We have an internationally leading postgraduate programme in Interpreting and Translation (MAIT) which is the sector leader in providing translators and interpreters for the UN and EU. We have recently invested £100,000 in state-of-the-art interpreting labs and MAIT is a key programme in our strategic aim to become leaders in postgraduate provision.

We offer five languages at undergraduate level in programmes that combine innovative approaches and dynamic curricula that have allowed us to thrive in a difficult national environment for languages. And, at a time when a number of universities are closing their institution-wide language provision, we are making ours a central part of our skills provision.

The proposal to restructure the University’s Foreign Language Centre (FLC) will make it more closely aligned to University strategy, and more effective in providing high quality skills provision, while still offering a range of languages worthy of an internationally-engaged university.

We have retained our commitment to offering language classes free of charge to students and subsidised classes to staff, as well as our commitment to providing community classes for staff, students and the wider Bath population.

If the FLC is to play a central role in skills provision, then it needs to be set on a more secure footing. Therefore, we are proposing a shift from variable hours contracts to permanent contracts in line with University policy.

We will also offer staff greater access to continuing professional development though in-house training for language teaching and encouraging staff to acquire qualifications such as Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) through the Bath Scheme.

The proposals would mean some reduction in staffing, predominantly in terms of variable hours contracts. It will also mean a more focussed and sustainable number of courses being offered in eight languages rather than eleven.

These are never easy decisions to make and we are consulting with those affected. However, we are confident that this reorganisation will create a more focussed, sustainable, and secure provision of languages for our students, staff and the wider community to enjoy.

Thank you,

Professor Peter Lambert
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching)

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