Until the academic year 2012-13, there was a full fee waiver for any such year abroad for students in England.
But since then, higher education institutions have received up to 40 per cent of full fees from students who pursue this option. The students themselves are required to pay up to 15 per cent, while a grant worth 25 per cent is available from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
Sunderland has joined a number of other institutions that have agreed to fund the 15 per cent of full fees faced by students who go on a year abroad.
Judith Turner, senior lecturer in Spanish at Sunderland, said such an experience promoted not only “linguistic proficiency” but “all those extras that employers are looking for: employability, maturity, independence, self-reliance and a broader cultural outlook”.
“The country is desperate for linguists and by not having to pay for that vital study year abroad in the third year of a languages course we will continue to attract more students to the courses we offer,” she said.
There has been widespread concern about a British lack of linguistic skills, a decline in the number of specialist language degrees and their increasing dominance by privately educated pupils.
Meanwhile, a 2012 report titled Recommendations to Support UK Outward Student Mobility, produced by a joint steering group from the UK Higher Education International Unit and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, noted that student mobility produces “graduates who are better educated, more well-rounded and more employable global citizens”.