University of Kent's Plan to Phase Out Modern Languages Raises Concerns, Threatening Language Education in SE England

In a recent development, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) has voiced deep concerns over the University of Kent's decision to phase out modern languages’ courses. The move, which aims to prioritise subjects like law, business, and computing, poses a significant threat to language education in Southeast England.

The ITI highlights the invaluable contribution of the School of Cultures and Languages (SCL) at the University of Kent, emphasising its role in providing access to core arts and humanities subjects for local students. With modern languages being a crucial component of the university’s Access and Participation Plan, the potential loss of degree-level language courses raises serious concerns about equal opportunities and access to language education.

Furthermore, the ITI warns that if the proposal to withdraw from teaching modern languages proceeds, Southeast England risks becoming a "cold spot" for language learning. This could disproportionately affect young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who may lack the means to study elsewhere in the UK, hindering their access to linguistic skills essential for global communication.

Citing research from organisations such as the CBI/Pearson and Aston University, the ITI underscores the economic benefits of language learning, emphasising its importance for businesses in an interconnected world. The lack of investment in language education, the ITI argues, could weaken the UK’s opportunity for sustainable economic growth and hinder its global competitiveness.

Moreover, the ITI highlights the broader benefits of language learning, including improved literacy, mental agility, and problem-solving skills, all of which are highly valued by businesses and enhance students' employability.

In light of these concerns, the ITI urges the senior leadership team at the University of Kent to reconsider their approach and ensure that Southeast England does not become devoid of language learning opportunities. Failure to do so, the ITI warns, could have far-reaching consequences for the region's intellectual, cultural, and economic prospects.