Letter: Togetherness

May 4, 2001

I would like to respond to David Head's suggestion that the Higher Education Funding Council for England has been inconsistent in its approach to the development of modern languages (Letters, THES , April ).

The letter I wrote in December 1999 to the heads of all HE institutions providing languages teaching was in response to declining recruitment trends and the fact universities and colleges were scaling down provision.

All these institutions are free to make decisions about the courses they offer. Our concern is that they should not work in isolation but develop programmes in the light of subject provision available at other institutions regionally and nationally. If everyone scales down provision in reaction to data, there is a risk of undersupply.

My letter was to encourage institutions to collaborate. The Universities Council on Modern Languages responded positively, and we are working on a range of schemes designed to encourage collaboration and to support modern foreign languages. None of this is dirigiste . It supports sensible planning while respecting institutional autonomy.

Brian Fender
Chief executive
Higher Education Funding Council for England

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