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BA Language & Intercultural studies at risk of withdrawal at University of Sussex

A new BA Language and Intercultural studies, which was given the go-ahead only in October 2020, is now at risk of withdrawal at the University of Sussex, despite the current number of applicants (27) and 1 confirmed student. This amount of interest has been achieved even though this degree has still not been properly advertised on the University’s website with the “subject to validation” tag removed only at the end of November.

This degree, which integrates Intercultural Studies with the practical study of languages, is a unique offer in the U.K. and is therefore an exceptional opportunity for the University of Sussex. Unlike other current offers in U.K. universities, which are Eurocentric in content and Anglocentric in delivery, the BA Languages & Intercultural Studies contains a decolonized curriculum, offers modules delivered and assessed in the target language(s) studied, including focuses on Latin America, Chicano Americans and Francophone Africa and Asia, in addition to the teaching of non-European languages (Chinese and Arabic). The degree was designed to be at the centre of the University’s internationalization strategy and its ambition of being a “global” university, aligning explicitly with the Sussex 2025 vision. In fact, in “normal” circumstances it is expected to recruit strongly from abroad as English to non-native speakers is one of the languages offered. It is difficult to quantify the damage to the University’s internationalization strategy and its reputation that the withdrawal of this degree would entail.

Recent developments at national level give weight to the claim that the introduction of this degree, which is genuinely unique in both design and ambition, could not be more timely. These include increasing recognition at government level of the nation’s languages deficit, exacerbated by the challenges of Brexit, the consequent urgent need for more language specialists and the move towards a national Languages Strategy. The British Council has also specifically labelled the language deficit in the UK as a national crisis, a sentiment confirmed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages. This is a vision that the establishment of SCLS at University of Sussex is uniquely equipped to deliver: multilingual, multicultural and with the relevant expertise in the emerging field of Intercultural Studies.

We are asking the University of Sussex to grab this exceptional opportunity, by allowing the BA Languages & Intercultural Studies to go ahead as planned.


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