Building Capacity in UK Higher Education

  • Jocelyn Wyburd


This chapter takes as its starting point the government’s recognition that languages in Higher Education are strategically important and vulnerable, considers the trends which gave rise to this classification and explores the role that higher education can play in rebuilding the UK’s capacity to communicate with and understand the world. It argues that universities are in a very strong position to build capacity in tomorrow’s graduates, to address national and international strategic needs. Degrees in languages are already developing a wide range of skills that have been identified as needed by employers across a range of sectors. Increasing numbers of graduates in other disciplines are entering the workforce equipped with at least some skills in an additional language as a result of provision in institution-wide language programmes. While departments conducting language-based research and delivering degrees remain vulnerable, they are in a strong position to make an evidence- and demand-based case for the importance of their disciplines


  1. APPGMFL. (2014). Manifesto for Languages. All-Party Parliamentary Group for Modern Languages/British Council.
  2. AULC. (2013). UCML-AULC Survey of Institution-Wide Language Provision in Universities in the UK 2012–13. Higher Education Academy.
  3. AULC. (2016). UCML-AULC Survey of Institution-Wide Language Provision in Universities in the UK 2015–16. UCML/AULC.
  4. Bøe, L., & Hurley, D. (2015). Gone International. UK Higher Education International Unit. Retrieved from
  5. British Academy. (2013). Lost for Words. The Need for Languages in UK Diplomacy and Security. British Academy.
  6. British Academy. (2016a). Born Global: Reports and Data Sets from the Born Global Research Project. British Academy.
  7. British Academy. (2016b). Born Global: Implications for Higher Education. British Academy.
  8. CBI. (2016). The Right Combination. CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey. CBI.
  9. CPPSRI. (2016). The Value of Languages. Cambridge Public Policy Strategic Research Initiative. University of Cambridge.
  10. Gallagher-Brett, A. (2016). Routes into Languages 4th Annual First-Year Undergraduate Survey in England: Students’ Prior Engagement with Languages Outreach and Enrichment Activities 2014–15. Southampton: Centre for Languages Linguistics and Area Studies/Routes into Languages.Google Scholar
  11. Hill, C., & Beadle, S. (2014). The Art of Attraction: Soft Power and the UK’s Role in the World. British Academy.
  12. Klaus, A., & Mentchen, S. (2016). Why We Cannot Afford Losing Erasmus+. (Report of a small-scale study disseminated) by UCML.
  13. Newby, D., & Penz, H. (Eds.). (2007). Languages for Social Cohesion. Language Education in a Multilingual and Multicultural Europe. ECML, Graz, Austria.Google Scholar
  14. Nuffield Language Inquiry. (2000). Languages: The Next Generation. Final Report and Recommendations of the Nuffield Languages Inquiry. The Nuffield Foundation.
  15. QAA. (2015). Subject Benchmark Statement: Languages, Cultures and Societies. Quality Assurance Agency.
  16. Scottish Government. (2012). Language Learning in Scotland. A 1+2 Approach. © Crown Copyright.
  17. UKHEIU. (2014). UK Strategy for Outward Mobility. UK Higher Education International Unit/BIS/HEFCE.
  18. Welsh Government. (2015). Global Futures. A Plan to Improve and Promote Modern Foreign Languages in Wales 2015–2020. © Crown Copyright.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jocelyn Wyburd
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations