University College London has announced that it is making a GCSE in a language a compulsory requirement for all applicants from 2012. (BBC News: Languages made degree requirement) With languages no longer compulsory at GCSE the numbers taking them have plummeted. But is this really the way to try to encourage people to take them?
When I was choosing my GCSE subjects at the age of 13, the last thing on my mind was whether or not I would need a particular subject to get onto an otherwise unrelated university course at one particular university (even one that is almost within walking distance of my old school) in half a decade's time. Just who makes this choice on such a basis? Indeed who would even be aware of it?
As a last ditch attempt to save languages as a subject the motivation of UCL is laudable. But frankly this is completely the wrong level to make it at.