Letter: Language of layoffs (2)

June 8, 2001

Your article on job cuts suggests we are close to a meltdown in foreign languages provision in some areas of the capital.

London First, the organisation that promotes the development of the capital's economy, makes much of the fact that there are "539 foreign banks in London" and that "London attracts more international companies than any other European location". They presumably should then be deeply concerned to see that parts of the city are in danger of becoming language deserts in higher education.

Perhaps it is time that members of the Greater London Authority started asking how this situation squares with their city's international role and with the former education minister Jacqui Smith's ambition to provide national "cradle to grave" access to languages.

The individualist "cut and run" approach to offering languages in the capital some universities are adopting - in the European Year of Languages no less - will do nothing to safeguard the capital's international future.

London deserves a more strategic vision for the future than this.

Hilary Footitt
University Council of Modern Languages ( www.ucml.org.uk )

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