Scots face languages crisis

November 1, 2002

Modern languages in Scotland's universities are in a catastrophic state because of underfunding, Gordon Millan, chair of the University Council of Modern Languages Scotland, is to warn.

Professor Millan, head of Strathclyde University's department of modern languages, will tomorrow give the presidential address to the Scottish Association of Language Teachers at Stirling University.

Although student numbers are healthy, staff are not being replaced because institutions are suffering a shortfall of about £2,000 a student, he will say.

The scale of the financial problems went undetected for many years because of cross-subsidies in central budgeting systems, but is now apparent as budgets are devolved.

Professor Millan will reveal the findings of his UCML survey of Scottish modern language departments, which show that only four Scottish universities teach full undergraduate programmes in the five basic European languages: French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish.

He said: "Not one of the post-92 universities has a single full-time foreign-language assistant on its staff. Many of the remaining staff in languages are either part-time or have no permanent contracts."

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