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A review has been published to investigate the health of modern foreign languages.
Strategically important subjects
In 2004, the Secretary of State sought advice from us on whether there are any strategically important higher education subjects or courses. The 'strategic importance' of these subjects refers to the need for some kind of assistive intervention to facilitate the subject's provision. Where such intervention is necessary in order to address a mismatch between supply and demand, the subject is designated as both strategically important and vulnerable.
The Secretary of State requested that we examine prospective strategically important subjects and the types of intervention that could be considered.
Strategically important and vulnerable subjects
In response to the Government's request, we have undertaken a £350 million programme of work to support subjects that are strategically important and vulnerable. The work of our advisory group has informed the scope and direction of this programme. Currently, the following subjects are identified as strategically important and vulnerable:
- science, technology, engineering and mathematics
- area studies and related minority languages, including:
- Arabic and Turkish language studies and other Middle Eastern area studies, former Soviet Union Caucasus and central Asian area studies
- Japanese, Chinese and other far eastern languages and area studies
- courses relating to recent EU accession countries, especially those in Eastern Europe and the Baltic
- quantitative social science
- modern foreign languages.
HEFCE's programme of work to support strategically important and vulnerable subjects 2005-06 to 2011-12
2008 review of the programme
During the course of 2007-08, HEFCE's strategically important subjects advisory group reconvened. Chaired by Professor Sir Brian Follett, the group reviewed our programme for strategically important and vulnerable subjects.
The group found that the principles to guide our programme remain fit for purpose, and offered key points of advice for today's environment.
A detailed breakdown of our funding for strategically important and vulnerable subjects is outlined in our October 2008 update to the Secretary of State.
Letter to Secretary of State, October 2008
We have produced a brief guide to illustrate our support for and future approach towards strategically important and vulnerable subjects.
Sustaining science and other key vulnerable subjects in higher education
We published the advisory group's final report to the Secretary of State in October 2008.
Other strategically important subjects
In June 2007 the Government identified Islamic studies as a strategically important subject. We are in the process of investigating an appropriate form of intervention, with advice from the Islamic studies community. We are not treating Islamic studies as vulnerable until we have fully assessed the needs of the subject.
In 2007, a review of land-based studies found no immediate threat to the sustainability of its provision in England, while recommending specific actions to prevent future vulnerability. We have subsequently agreed that the subject should no longer be considered vulnerable, but have launched a programme of support to forestall potential risks.
Science: [So What? So Everything]
HEFCE is part of the 'Science: [So What? So Everything]' campaign, which aims to show people how science benefits our everyday lives, and is crucial in strengthening the UK economy and meeting some of the major challenges of our time.
Details of our continuing support for strategic subjects are also available.
Questions about HEFCE's approach to strategic subjects should be directed to Paul Hazell, tel 0117 931 7452, e-mail email@example.com.
Last updated 2 June 2009