Numerical trends in language education

  • 09 May 2020 15:52
    Message # 8957640

    Dear Colleague. I've been doing some 'research' on A-level and undergraduate numbers in our language education (where 'our' switches between England and the UK), which has resulted in some graphs that I think are quite interesting. If you're interested, you'll find them at

    The raw data come from HESA (for undergraduates in linguistics) and from the websites of the four UK exam boards (AQA, Edexcel, Eduqas/WJEC and OCR). HESA seems to have changed its methods radically between 2014 and 2015; if you can help me to understand that change, I'll be very grateful. The exam boards are relatively straightforward.

    The bottom line seems to be that:

    • BA/MA linguistics is doing ok, but there was a worrying fall in 2018 and 2019.
    • The study of foreign languages at school is less worrying than I thought if we take account of 'other foreign languages' and classical languages, both of which have been buoyant until very recently.
    • The most worrying trend is the recent (since 2013) sharp fall in A-level English Language.

    I'll be pleased to receive comments and corrections at, or (of course) via this forum.


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