Letter: Crisis for students

Sir: You refer to Lord Puttnam's investigation of ways to encourage students to take a year out to try teaching and the suggestion that one incentive might be to reduce or scrap university tuition fees (report, 22 December).

One can only wish him luck though I doubt whether Middle England will accept untrained and unqualified 18- or 19-year-olds being let loose on their children.

Government policy is, however, at the moment pointing in exactly the opposite direction: as of next academic year tuition fees are to be imposed on modern language students who spend their compulsory year abroad teaching English in foreign schools, while students who choose the easier option of a year as an exchange student at a foreign university will be charged nothing.

This is a tax on initiative for which there is no logical justification.

Needless to say, the number of British students applying to teach in their year abroad is on the point of collapse, and a scheme that has helped sustain the very basis of language studies in Britain is in crisis.

This is a perverse situation that makes talk of joined-up government a sick joke.

JOHN P WIECZOREK

Department of German Studies

The University of Reading

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