Thriving for the public good

Date: 11 September, 2013
Location: The British Medical Association, London
Event type: Workshop

Location map | Programme

5th Annual workshop for Heads of Department and leaders in languages, linguistics and area studies

This event is supported by the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML).

Impact and public benefit are key priorities for the public funding of higher education. For example, the 2014 Research Evaluation Framework (REF) requires universities to demonstrate that their research has benefits outside the university as well as within the academic community. The strategies of AHRC and ESRC emphasise the commitment to interact with public life and bring benefits to the country. The Finch report has called for all publically funded research outputs to be open access so they can be read by anybody who wishes to read them without payment or library subscription. The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement promotes the free sharing and re-sharing of teaching resources without copyright restrictions and MOOCs (Mass Open Online Courses) attempt to reach new audiences all over the world. The public benefits universities provide to their local communities through outreach work, continuing education and public engagement is a key part of demonstrating impact outside academia. Universities also need to have access agreements in place to promote university study to groups who have traditionally found it difficult to access higher education.

Heads of departments of languages and related studies face some well known challenges and some new ones. Student numbers and staff-student ratios persist as a key concern. Tightened immigration policies have made the recruitment of (non-EU) international students more difficult and in England changes in the constraints on student numbers have added further complexity to recruitment process. Technological developments and school curriculum changes mean that student expectations change more rapidly than ever. Changes in student funding, demographics, and the school curriculum have introduced great volatility, and longer term shifts in the patterns of international political and economic relations raise existential challenges for languages and other studies dealing with the wider world.

The workshop will cover : 

  • Impact and public engagement
  • Strategic issues in languages and related studies
  • Student recruitment, numbers
  • Profile-raising within the institution



£180.00 to attend the event

There is a cancellation charge of £180 if you cancel from Wednesday 28 August 2013 onwards

Lunch will be provided.

 Final Programme

10:00- 10:30 Coffee and registration
10:30- 10:35 Welcome and Housekeeping

Session One: Strategy

A strategic contextual overview of university modern languages.
Jim Coleman, Professor of Language Learning and Teaching, Open University and Chair of the University Council for Modern Languages

Major social and economic changes as well as policy shifts at UK and European level offer many new challenges and some new opportunities for modern language departments in the UK.  Longstanding concerns about the sustainability of language programmes now exist against a backdrop of on-going austerity and the priority of jobs and growth.  This presentation will consider the implications for languages and how languages can thrive in the present context. To view Jim Coleman's presentation, please click here.

Building and enhancing a language strategy in your institution
Vicky Wright, Director of Language Strategy, University of Southampton

This talk will present an example of the process and outcome of undertaking the development of an institutional language strategy


Session Two: Leadership

Leading a department of modern languages: Old and new challenges
Michael Kelly, Director of Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, University of Southampton

Successfully leading a university department requires a wide range of academic and interpersonal skills.  Leading change and managing colleagues (who are often also friends) are particular challenges for new HoDs. Being aware of your institution's strategic priorities and building strong relationships outside your department are key to surviving and thriving in your own university.  Click here for powerpoint presentation.

13:00- 14:00 Lunch

Session Three: Curriculum review (group activity)

Facilitator: Alison Dickens, Assistant Director of the Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, University of Southampton

Reviewing the curriculum is one of the main ways in which a department can address change.  In this session we will work in groups to discuss issues and approaches, whether it is carried out as a collective task or in response to pressure from senior management


Session Four: Impact

Handling the media

Jim Coleman, Professor of Language Learning and Teaching and Chair of UCML  and Teresa MacKinnon Senior Language Tutor, University of Warwick and Vice Chair, External Engagement and Communications, UCML

The media encompasses everything from traditional formats such as newspapers, radio and TV through to social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter.  Media is both an opportunity and a challenge for the HoD.  This talk will focus on understanding on how the media operates and how it can work to the benefit of your department.  Please view Teresa MacKinnon's presentation, please click here and the video clip by clicking here  Jim Coleman's presentation is available to view here.


Thriving for the public good (group activity)

Facilitators: Michael Kelly, Director of Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies and Alison Dickens, Assistant Director of the Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, University of Southampton

Impact has become an important part of university activities and is increasingly being professionalised. This group activity will consider how you can organise your department more effectively to achieve impact in a) Research and b) Education

Review of the day

This plenary session will bring together the points covered during the day and provide an opportunity to further raise questions