Westminster Higher Education Forum

The future of Modern Foreign Languages in Higher Education

Tuesday, 4th April 2017

The Caledonian Club, 9 Halkin Street, London SW1X 7DR


Bringing together policymakers and stakeholders, this seminar will focus on practical steps and policy options to improve the uptake of Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), as well as addressing challenges and opportunities for MFL provision in HE in light of the number of students studying MFL at A-level falling to an all-time low.

With the HEFCE-funded ‘Routes into Languages’ programme coming to the end of its funding cycle, delegates will discuss lessons learnt from the programme and what more can be done at school level to increase the number of students opting to study MFL at GCSE, A-level and then apply for an MFL course at university as well as the increasing trend for more ‘ab initio’ provision - universities teaching language courses from scratch rather than requiring prior understanding of basics.

Discussion will also assess the impact of the EU referendum result and potential loss of access to the Erasmus+ programme on attracting students to study MFL degrees - as well as best practice examples of innovative ways to improve the financial sustainability of language departments, such as re-designing departments to also provide less formal, part-time options for students studying non-MFL degrees.

Guest of Honour

Rebecca Hughes

Director of International Higher Education, British Council

Guest of Honour

Rebecca Hughes

Director of International Higher Education, British Council

Keynote Speaker

Professor Michael Kelly

Emeritus Professor of French, University of Southampton and former Director, Routes into Languages Programme


Baroness Donaghy

Member, House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee

Lord Dykes

Vice-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for the European Union


Dr Stephen Forcer

Senior Lecturer in French Studies, Head of the Department of Modern Languages, University of Birmingham

Angela Sterling

Founder and Managing Director, Lingotot

Stephanie Marie Black León

Head of Cultural Affairs and Education, Embassy of Mexico in the United Kingdom

Dr Simon Coffey

Senior Lecturer in Education, Modern Foreign Languages, King’s College London

Professor Chris Pountain

Chair, IoL Educational Trust and Emeritus Professor of Spanish Linguistics, Queen Mary University of London

Fiona Waye

Senior Policy Lead, Inclusion, Equality and Diversity, Universities UK and Manager, Routes into Languages Programme

Dr Shirley Lawes

Lecturer in Modern Foreign Languages and Teacher Training Coordinator, University College London

Professor Claire Gorrara

Founding Head of the School of Modern Languages and Professor of French Studies, Cardiff University

Jane Driver

Associate Assistant Principal and Subject Leader for Languages, The Voyager Academy, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire