Cambridge drops need for foreign language

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The Independent Online

Cambridge University applicants will no longer need a GCSE in a modern foreign language to win a place, following the biggest shake-up of its entrance requirements for nearly half a century.

The 800-year-old university argues that it is unfair to continue to demand that all applicants have at least a C grade in a language GCSE when many schools no longer require students to take the subject.

Dr Geoff Parks, director of admissions for the Cambridge colleges, said: "This change would remove something which has, unfortunately, become a significant barrier impeding access to Cambridge. We would still encourage all young people to learn a foreign language, and highlight the fact that students at Cambridge are able to study no fewer than 140 different languages through the provision at our excellent language centre."

The decision was taken after ministers dropped foreign languages from the national curriculum for 14-year-olds in 2004. Since then, the number of state schools requiring students to take a language GCSE has plummeted. In 2000, 80 per cent of students studied a foreign language at GCSE level. The proportion has fallen to below 50 per cent.