Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


"Parlez-vous français?" Probably not, as the number of modern languages students falls

The number of students taking modern languages at university fell by 12 per cent for 2012/13

“Parlez-vous français?” The answer, according to new data from the Higher Education Funding council for England (HEFCE), is no.

The number of students accepting university places to study modern languages has fallen by 12 per cent overall, with French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Scandinavian Studies among the hardest hit.

Intake for French, Spanish and Portuguese degrees dropped by 15 per cent in 2012/13, while German and Scandinavian Studies plunged by over 30 per cent.

Just 4,842 undergraduates accepted places to study a language, as universities increased their annual tuition fees to £9,000 for September 2012 entry, compared to 5,508 prior to the fee hike. 

The falling figures reflect an overall trend that saw student admissions decrease by six per cent last year, with 27,120 fewer students taking up a university place.

The decline in numbers has been blamed on rising costs of university incurred by the fee increases, with many A-level students opting to go straight to university in 2011 to avoid the higher fees.

HEFCE’s data indicates that the only modern language to improve on student numbers was African and Modern Middle Eastern Studies, which increased by one per cent from last year.