Languages decline ‘puts Oxbridge success rate up’

A shortage of students taking languages at A level means that some have a 50 per cent chance of getting a place to study at Oxbridge, it has emerged

May 8, 2015

Source: Alamy

Nick Mair, chair of the Independent Schools’ Modern Languages Association and director of languages at Dulwich College, said that some Oxford colleges had told him they “took every person who applied” for some language degrees.

According to this week’s TES, Mr Mair told a conference in London last week that many Russell Group universities received so few applications for language courses that they offered a “special discount” by lowering the grades required.

The number of students taking French and German A levels has dropped by a third over the past decade.

Analysis of admissions figures by TES reveals that this has affected students’ chances of being accepted by the universities of Cambridge and Oxford.

In 2014, modern and medieval languages courses at the University of Cambridge received just two applicants for each place; in economics, however, the university received seven applications for every place.

A spokesman for the university said that although the numbers were low, the applications for its language degrees were from “very high achievers” who had achieved at least three A grades at A level.

The University of Oxford’s modern languages and linguistics degree has the highest acceptance rate of any subject it offers, with 44 per cent of applicants receiving a place in 2014. Modern languages is in third place, with a 33 per cent acceptance rate.

By contrast, economics and management received 1,149 applications for just 86 places in 2014 - a 7 per cent acceptance rate.

However, a spokeswoman insisted that students applying to study languages at the university would still have to do “exceptionally well” to be accepted on to a course.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show