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Language Matters

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This British Academy position paper, launched on 3 June 2009, discusses concerns that the future of the UK’s world class research base might be threatened by the decline in modern language learning and calls for a series of measures by Universities and Government bodies to address this danger.

The Academy concludes that the declining language skills are damaging the education system in a number of ways:

  • it is having a harmful impact on the ability of UK-born and UK-educated researchers to compete with their counterparts from overseas
  • it works against efforts to ensure that the UK is a world-class hub of research, which in turn is damaging to the UK’s economy
  • it affects the UK’s ability to address many of the most urgent global challenges
  • it is damaging the health of humanities and social science research.

The report states: ‘In a world of research that is global, these serious shortcomings and deficits undermine the Government’s objective of positioning the UK as a hub of international research.’ Research commissioned from RAND Europe showed that universities are addressing this skills shortage by buying in the skills they need from abroad, rather than by helping UK researchers and academics to ‘upskill’.

For the origins of this document, see:


Number of pages: 8

Publication date: 3 Jun 2009