From September 2017 Languages For All (LFA) lessons will no longer be free for first year undergraduate students.
LFA is a university-wide scheme that offers a range of language courses to undergrad and postgrad students, as well as to members of staff and public.
The main programme offered is a 19-week programme which runs throughout the year and leads to a final exam. The 14 languages available are divided into seven levels corresponding to the Common European Framework of Reference for language levels. In certain departments, the course may be taken as a 20-credit module.
Until now first years have been entitled to take one general LFA course (19-weeks) for free, which otherwise would cost £150. From September 2017, this offer will no longer exist.
A first restriction to the scheme was introduced last September. The offer used to allow students who hadn’t taken the course in their first year to be eligible for it up until the end of their degree. The latter option is not available to 2016-2017 matriculates. Current students are eligible for the free course in their first year, while for students enrolled in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 the initial offer hasn’t changed.
On the other end of the spectrum, to current first year students the free entitlement scheme includes not only the general course but also the 16-week French for International Mobility Programme, a new programme that has been introduced this year. However, both the aim of the programme and its prerequisites are narrower than the 19-week programme. The new course is conceived for students who are planning to visit or live in a French-speaking country with a good basic level of competence in French. It is in fact, an intermediate level programme, so students are required to have completed their GCSE or equivalent in order to attend the course.
The decision has had particular reverberations for English students, who had previously had to know or learn a language in order to pass a Foreign Literature or Foreign Language module in their second year. The 2017 intake will take the revised ‘World Literature Module’, which will not require any LFA work. They will be taught either from scratch, on the basis of school qualifications, or in translation.
University Registrar David Duncan commented: “The decision to stop free foreign language course provision for all students was made some time ago and applies to new students starting after September 2017.
“Essentially, given the high drop-out rates from the free courses, we felt that we could make better use of the funds by enhancing other aspects of the student experience. We will, however, continue to provide free courses for some students who can best benefit from them via the Centre for Global Programmes.”