Monthly Archives: April 2011

Cuts Threaten More Foreign Languages at UCLA

Kevin Matthews writes for UCLA Today, April 27, 2011:

Unless the Education Department acts to spread out painful federal cuts among a broad set of programs, UCLA may be forced to eliminate some foreign languages with small enrollments, such as Czech, that are offered in advanced tutorials as well as to reduce staff and training programs in international education.

Fellowships that enable students to learn languages and study overseas are also in jeopardy of being cut by 40 percent, along with the budgets of National Resource Centers (NRCs) and other units at UCLA involved in community outreach and teaching about the world.

“These programs are essential for ensuring U.S. global competitiveness and national security, and for our knowledge about the world beyond the United States,” said Randal Johnson, vice provost for international studies at UCLA, a Brazilian film scholar and fluent Portuguese speaker who began learning the language under the fellowship programs that would be affected. “They allowed generations of leaders and scholars to study and do research abroad. I personally would not be where I am today without those two programs, nor would many, many others.”

As Congress was reaching a deal to avert a government shutdown earlier this month, international education, which makes up a tiny portion of the federal budget, was not raised in the public debate. The programs were not mentioned by name in the budget deal that passed Congress. But to the surprise of many, news of a $50 million, or 40 percent, cut to two key pieces of legislation, Title VI of the Higher Education Act and the Fulbright-Hays Act, emerged in a breakdown of the budget plan published after negotiations ended.

So international and foreign language education advocates, including Johnson, are now lobbying the Education Department to distribute the cuts across a wider range of programs. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has 30 days from the date when the bill was passed, April 15, to decide how the final cuts will be made.

“What remains to be seen is how the secretary plans to implement that cut,” said Kim Kovacs, UCLA’s executive director of federal relations. “That’s the big question sitting out there. It’s not at all clear how this cut will be applied. They could decide to maintain the awards that have already been made and not fund new awards. We just don’t know. What we’re asking is that this cut be mitigated as much as possible.”

At UCLA, the Title VI money, totaling $2.6 million a year, supports five NRCs dedicated to major world regions, the National Heritage Language Resource Center and the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), making UCLA a major recipient of funding under the program. These centers are part of the International Institute and the Anderson School of Management. As much as $1 million could be cut. While that is a small amount compared to other federal grants, the impact would be sorely felt.

The federal money pays for all or part of the salaries of instructors in several foreign languages with small enrollments, such as Indonesian. The Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships awarded every year under the federal program help support more than 60 UCLA undergraduate and graduate students working on 31 languages.

“I think what we’re finally realizing is that globalization is real and that the American economy, while it is still dominant and large, is adjusting to a new world,” said Robert Spich, director of programs for CIBER at UCLA’s Anderson School. “Title VI organizations are really important for that reason: Keeping that global mindset and focus on global competencies is a really fundamental activity.”

Title VI funds also connect UCLA with local communities, for example, in training programs for middle and high school teachers. The NRCs at the International Institute, for example, are working with an LAUSD secondary school, the International Studies Learning Center in South Gate, to develop a rigorous international studies curriculum for grades 6 through 12. The program will provide UCLA experts as guest speakers at the school and field trips to bring students to UCLA.

Because the learning center is part of a larger network, lesson plans developed with UCLA’s help could have an impact on international education at seven California schools and 27 campuses around the country, according to Guillermina Jaureguí, principal of the South Gate International Studies Learning Center.

“Obviously, we have an international staff, but world regions are so large. How can you have all of that information?” Jaureguí said of the impact of the UCLA partnership. “How do we provide teachers with the perspective and knowledge on the different regions of the world, so that our staff will really be knowledgeable about the three or four regions they will have to present to students? Without UCLA we could be lacking that advantage.”

After Sept. 11, 2001, there was heightened awareness of the national need for in-depth knowledge of world affairs and advanced language proficiency. Congress approved a series of increases to Title VI and Fulbright-Hays.

If implemented in the current fiscal year, a 40 percent cut would wipe away all of the gains made over the past decade, Johnson said.

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Louisiana Public Colleges to Lose Foreign Language Programs

According to an article in the Columbus, IN, online paper, The Republic, Louisiana’s Board of Regents will be cutting foreign language programs throughout state universities. Below is the article of April 27, 2011:

More than 100 degree programs — including in foreign language, economics, science and education — will be cut at Louisiana’s public colleges because they have too few graduates, the Board of Regents agreed Wednesday.

The panel, which oversees higher education in the state, also decided to consolidate more than 190 other academic programs. All were identified in January as “low-completer” programs with few students getting degrees from them.

Education officials say students enrolled in the programs will be able to finish their degrees before the programs are scrapped.

“These program terminations and consolidations were tough decisions, especially in the review of foreign languages,” Regents Chairman Bob Levy said in a statement. “What we discovered is that in today’s global economy, students are taking foreign languages, but they are not majoring in them.”

The state’s only Latin degree program, at LSU’s main campus, will disappear, along with degree programs in German at LSU and French and Spanish at LSU-Shreveport, Southern University and Grambling State University. Students still will be able to take foreign language classes, but there won’t be enough upper-level courses offered to earn a degree in those languages.

Other degree programs to be scrapped include chemistry at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, fashion design and merchandising at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, geography at Louisiana Tech University, communications studies at McNeese State University and sociology at Southern University at New Orleans.

Universities have faced repeated budget cuts that have stripped more than $310 million in state funding, or about 18 percent, from campuses since 2008. Tuition increases have covered only some of the gaps.

Regents performed a similar review in the last two years and ended 118 programs, but this latest review had more rigorous standards and no exemptions. More than 450 programs at campuses around the state were targeted for review, 30 percent of the academic programs, and 298 will be either eliminated or consolidated.

Schools were given time to plead their case to try to keep programs open.

Board members said the elimination of “low-completer” programs will help campuses save money in tight financial times, improve their performance and get them focused on their core missions and centers of excellence.

For undergraduate programs, those that were eliminated had fewer than eight graduates per year or fewer than 24 completers over three years. Graduate-level programs that will be scrapped had even fewer students reaching their degrees.

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Cornell’s Critical Language Programs Face Significant Cuts

The bad news continues:

Article by Akane Otani in The Cornell Daily Sun, April 25, 2011:

To the dismay of administrators, faculty and students, Cornell’s 11 “critical language” programs — which offer students instruction in lesser-known languages that hold national importance, like Khmer and Burmese — are facing significant budget reductions and potential elimination after federal lawmakers agreed to a $1.3 billion reduction to the Department of Education on April 15.

Although the DOE has until May 15 to determine how the cuts will be distributed across various programs for the fiscal year 2011, federal lawmakers recommended a 40 percent cut — approximately $50 million — to Title VI programs nationwide as part of the federal budget agreement. The programs support government efforts to improve the U.S.’s capacity in foreign affairs.

Through Title VI, Cornell had expected to receive $2.5 million in National Resource Center grants over the next three years. The NRC grants are used in large part to fund Cornell’s Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Asia programs, which only receive between four and 23 percent of their annual funding from Cornell, according to Prof. Tamara Loos, history, director of the Southeast Asia Program.

Given a 40 percent cut, Cornell would have to eliminate four of the 11 languages, Loos said. Additionally, Cornell receives $1.5 million from the federal government to pay salaries and benefits for program staff, money that may also be in jeopardy, she said.

University administrators, faculty and students decried the cuts, arguing that the lack of funding would discourage students from learning about foreign cultures and would hamper the U.S.’s ability to conduct global affairs.

“What these grants do is allow us to offer languages that may not have huge numbers of students learning them, but are very important … If you cut these programs, it becomes very difficult for the University to offer them,” Alice Pell, vice provost for international relations, said.

Within the language programs, the funds are used to strengthen language instruction, provide greater cultural understanding at Cornell and provide cultural outreach to local schools, Pell said. Programs with higher demand, such as Mandarin, are funded through the College of Arts and Sciences and are less likely to be affected by the cuts, she said.

In addition to jeopardizing Cornell’s ability to offer critical languages, the cuts could also inhibit graduate students’ studies. Through federal support, Cornell’s National Resource Centers provide fellowships for 22 graduate students every year, as well as 15 students every summer, Loos said.

“Cuts to such fellowships will sharply reduce the number of young Americans trained to support their nation’s international interests and concerns,” Loos said.

Prof. Jolanda Pandin, Asian studies, echoed Loos’ remark, saying language study is becoming increasingly important today.

“Language is a gateway to different world perspectives. Until you can really be in a society and interact with people, especially as an academic, you cannot have a full understanding of their society,” Pandin said.

Prof. Maria Theresa Savella, Asian studies, said she was concerned about how the cuts would affect decades of work spent building the Southeast Asia Program. In addition to supporting the professional development of foreign language faculty, the federal grants have facilitated collaborative work with professors at peer institutions, she said.

“We have invested so much in the language programs. If they’re going to stop that now, all that work will go down the drain,” Savella said. “When they decide at some point in the future that they want to start funding us again, they’ll have to start from zero.”

Additionally, students expressed concern about how the cuts would impact their own language studies.

Lawrence Chua grad, a Mellon graduate fellow, said that the funding he received to study Thai, Chinese and Khmer was vital to “accessing and articulating world views and systems of logic that are often overlooked by scholars working exclusively in the English language.”

Raj Kannappan ’13, who studies Bahasa Indonesia, said that the government should be promoting the study of these languages instead of discouraging it.

“A lot of people come here to study these languages because they aren’t offered in many colleges,” Kannappan said.

Irene Vrinte grad, who is also studying Bahasa Indonesia, said that while the critical language programs seem very small, the cuts should be viewed from a broader perspective.

“In an increasingly interconnected world and at a leading institution like Cornell, cutting funding for these languages would be devastating,” Vrinte said.

Vrinte noted that on top of the potential Title VI cuts, Dutch, Swedish and Modern Greek have already been eliminated for the following year.

Fred Logevall, director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, expressed “extreme concern” about the situation and its global implications.

“Cornell seeks to produce graduates who have cross-cultural understanding and who are really prepared for the internationally-oriented careers that many of them will have after they leave here,” Logevall said. “Foreign language training has to be a key part of that endeavor.”

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Major Foreign Language Cuts Possible at Glasgow University

Article by Charlotte Smith in The Independent, April 21, 2011:

Proposals to scrap seven modern languages at the University of Glasgow bring the new education economy sharply into focus. Polish, Czech, Russian, German, Italian, Portuguese and Catalan may be stopped, leaving Glasgow teaching just French and Spanish.

The university management justifies the cuts in terms of financial necessity and strategic importance. But will a “business-oriented” model of higher education give business what it wants? Is there a mismatch between the skills we expect from migrant workers in the UK, and what British workers can offer in return?

Across the country, universities are juggling budgets, tuition fees and proposed new criteria to assess the economic and social impact of research. The University of Glasgow cites a £35m funding gap in the next three years, to be bridged by income from overseas students and cost-cutting. Nursing, anthropology, social work, drug misuse research and adult education may be withdrawn. Modern languages, archaeology, history, classics are earmarked for review.

Academics voiced concern about the consultation process, which is to be led by managers who proposed the cuts, at an extraordinary Senate meeting. Student protesters have been evicted by police. Glasgow is the only university in Scotland offering degree programmes in Polish and Czech, and this work interconnects with social sciences and a publicly funded research network. Not everybody believes the cuts are financially motivated. The School of Modern Languages and Cultures is understood to make an annual surplus of about £2m.

“There’s an arrogant, imperialist attitude that what’s happening in English is all that matters,” said Jan Culik, senior lecturer in Czech studies.

“Lots of English people pontificate about Eastern Europe, and the rest of the world, but they don’t understand the discourse. For that, they need to be able to speak the local languages.”

So how do the proposed cuts fit into the policy agenda? On the day they were announced, the British Academy launched a document called Language Matters More and More.

“We can no longer assume that English is the global language par excellence – 75 per cent of the world’s population do not speak English as their first language,” it said.

Most internet pages will be in Chinese within an estimated 20 years. Internet usage in English fell from 51 per cent to 29 per cent between 2000 and 2009. The Higher Education Funding Council for England prioritises both Eastern European studies and foreign languages as “strategically important” and “vulnerable”. Yet only four out of 10 state school pupils learn a language at GCSE, compared with eight of 10 in independent schools.

Sarah Bonnell School, a girls’ comprehensive and specialist language college in Stratford, east London, is an exception. All pupils choose from Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Latin, Spanish and Urdu at GCSE. More than 70 languages are spoken and any “home language” will be accommodated.

Sinead Earley, the learning area manager, says languages give confidence to speak and present opinions, as well as grammatical tools and vocabulary. She believes damage has been done to language provision, but the pendulum is swinging back.

“The Coalition Government is putting languages back on the map with the English Baccalaureate,” she said.

“That makes me hopeful that this will feed through to A-level, which will feed through to university. I just think we have got a bit of a way to go.”

The Confederation of British Industry has found that over two-thirds of employers are not happy with young people’s foreign language skills and over half see shortfalls in their international cultural awareness. More than 50,000 people from Poland came to work in the UK in 2010. But less than 500 students here gained higher education qualifications in Russian and East European studies last year.

Anna Maria McKeever, founder and director of the British Polish Business Club, says young Polish people are keen to gain English language qualifications to improve job prospects, whereas few British people can relate to Polish culture.

“I am always very impressed with clients, irrespective of their nationality, who greet me in Polish at the beginning of the meeting,” she said.

The club offers training on cultural awareness, such as perceptions of time and personal space or how to respond to business and social nuances, as well as proof-reading services. Monika Majewska came to England six years ago, aged 20, and works in a Polish delicatessen in Ealing, west London.

“Some Polish people are going back home now because they don’t know English so it’s difficult to find work,” she said. “I think the language is really important here.” Like Katarzyna Bednarska, a beautician, she also speaks Polish for a large proportion of the time. Both followed their partners here.

Renato Gutrai came to England soon after Hungary joined the EU in 2004, hoping to practise his English and fund teacher training. But he has been selling The Big Issue for three years, after being made redundant and homeless.

“A society can’t really be multicultural if you don’t learn about other people’s backgrounds, and you understand better if you speak the language,” he said.

“Some people here even know the capital of Hungary, and now travel is cheaper, people go to Hungarian dentists to have their teeth done. But if you really want a multicultural society, you have to be more open.”

So there seems to be consensus among employers, teachers and policymakers. Foreign languages may enhance the employability, mobility and competitiveness of the workforce, as well as providing softer skills. There’s still a stark contrast between multilingual migrant workers who make a vital contribution to the UK economy, and monolingual Brits who might struggle to find work abroad. And if no one wants to say languages are worthless, the debate about budgets is much more fraught.

Economists may still support spending cuts, rather than revenue generation, to tackle the government deficit, arguing that evidence supports this .But it’s also far more expensive to rebuild from scratch a language department that has been destroyed than to keep it ticking over – education is more than a commodity that can be stretched and contracted like an elastic band.

The irony seems to be that a more business-based model for universities is producing a less business-friendly result. If education can’t help us deliver on a basic exchange, it will be a long time before students in Glasgow or elsewhere can say “Dobra”.

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Impact of Budget Cuts on Foreign Language and International Relations Studies

Article by Sarah Wright for Education Portal, April 20, 2011:

Cuts to the federal budget are being felt across all sectors. In education, these cuts are particularly damaging to the fields of international studies and foreign languages. Here’s an analysis of how budget cuts may impact this field.

About The Cuts
In the federal government budget passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Obama in April, 2011, many programs and departments are seeing cuts. The Department of Education certainly did not avoid damage to its allotments, and one area, that of international studies and foreign languages, has seen major cuts to specific programs. These programs, including those enabled by Title VI of the Higher Education Act and the Fulbright-Hays act, are set to have their budgets cut by 40%.

Title VI of the Higher Education Act covers programs like overseas research centers, foreign language and area studies fellowships, business and international education, and language centers and international research, to name a few. Programs under the Fulbright-Hays act are distinct from the Fulbright programs administered by the State Department, though they similar. The purpose of these programs is to foster international cooperation by sending excellent students from the U.S. to study at foreign institutions.

It should be noted that not all foreign language and international studies programs are going to see cutbacks. Those affiliated with the Defense Department didn’t suffer much, and the State Department’s teaching programs were mostly untouched, with the exception of the Fulbright program. The Education Department is the federal body that suffered the most in this aspect of the budget.

The Implications
Cuts to the Fulbright-Hays programs will likely mean a significant drop in students receiving these awards. The way the cuts will impact programs will play out on a case-by-case basis, as individual departments at respective colleges and universities work out their own spending plans. One major way the cuts may be felt is through a drop in funding for graduate students. Another potential way the cuts may be felt is through staff layoffs. Since faculty is not funded through federal money, those professionals are unlikely to lose their jobs due to the budget cuts. However, foreign language classes may need to be cut, particularly those in less commonly studied, but still important, languages like Thai and Indonesian.

Aside from complaints about staff layoffs and other changes within the academy, opponents of the cuts argue that they may be damaging to the United States’ global economic viability and national security. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that one such opponent, Miriam A. Kazanjian of the Coalition for International Education, called the planned cuts ‘devastating.’ Kazanjian argues that education in languages like Arabic and Farsi, which are very important to the United States’ military, business and diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, would be severely damaged.

Another Perspective
While opponents of the cuts decry the loss of funding, there may be some cause to temper pessimism. This will certainly be quite difficult for those who lose jobs in the wake of the budget cuts. But scholarship may not suffer the setbacks that budget cut opponents have predicted. Many of the programs that will suffer sharp cuts actually benefited financially from efforts at ramping up international relations in the wake of September 11, 2001.

The impending cuts will certainly do damage to many of these programs, but will actually roll many of them back to their funding status before 2001. It can be argued that if these programs were able to succeed before receiving this extra funding, they will be able to succeed after losing it. Those who work, and study, in these fields are unlikely to agree with that point of view. But in a time of financial crisis, it may be necessary to make painful sacrifices. Whether the cuts to foreign language learning and international studies programs in the U.S. will have a severe and lasting negative impact remains to be seen.

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Congress Cuts Foreign Language Funding

This is terrible news in wake of all the budget wrangling in Congress!! So much money is wasted every year on ridiculous programs yet Congress manages to pick on those that are vital!! Here is the article from Inside Higher Ed (written by Libby A. Nelson, April 15, 2011):

When a chart of all cuts in the 2011 budget passed by Congress on Thursday was made public earlier this week, international-education advocates received an unpleasant surprise: funding for foreign language and area studies programs within the Education Department could be cut by as much as $50 million, rolled back to levels last seen before Sept. 11, 2001. (Note: This article has been updated from an earlier version to reflect new developments.)

“There was no advance hint that it was on the target list,” Carl Herrin, senior partner at consulting firm Global Education Solutions, said about international education.

For the past decade, programs dealing with strategic languages and regions have enjoyed bipartisan support and steadily increasing federal dollars. Neither previous stopgap funding measures nor H.R. 1, the proposed Republican budget for the remainder of 2011, singled them out. But for these programs, and for other, smaller initiatives within the Education Department, the 2011 budget could herald a new era, as a wave of spending cuts and increased pressure to deal with deficits will force legislators to set strict priorities.

Programs in international and foreign language education are spread across several agencies, including the Defense Department, State Department and Education Department, and cuts were distributed unequally. Department of Defense funding for strategic language learning was left relatively unscathed, and money for the State Department’s exchange initiatives, which include many Fulbright foreign study programs, was cut 5.7 percent.

The biggest losses could come in the Education Department: if agency-level budget cuts lists on the House Appropriations Committee website are enacted, programs that emphasize foreign languages and area studies could lose up to 40 percent of their budgets.

“It would be really devastating,” said Miriam Kazanjian, a consultant with the Coalition for International Education. “A whole decade of strengthening these programs would be completely wiped out.”

Whether those cuts will actually occur is still unclear. Title VI programs, so called because of the provision of the Higher Education Act under which they fall, are not mentioned by name in the spending bill. In the end, the Education Department will decide which of its programs will lose money, international education advocates said.

The chart on the Appropriations Committee website listed a $50 million cut for international education and foreign language, along with cuts to many other agencies not mentioned by name in the legislation. But mandatory cuts in other areas specified in the legislation leave the department with few options.

“It remains to be seen how much flexibility they’re going to have to not cut Title VI for $50 million,” Kazanjian said. “They would have an ability to shift things around, to my knowledge. Hopefully they’ll do that in a way that won’t be so devastating to these small programs.”

Programs that fall under the Title VI umbrella include National Resource Centers, grants to universities for modern foreign language study; the Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships; Language Resource Centers, which research teaching and learning of foreign languages; and centers for international business education and research, among others. Many emphasize languages and regions that are considered strategically important or are infrequently studied, Kazanjian said.

The Education Department also administers Fulbright grants for doctoral dissertations, faculty research, group projects and seminars abroad.

“If these programs disappeared, most of these courses and least commonly taught languages would certainly take a beating,” Kazanjian said. A majority of students who learn the least commonly taught languages — including Pashto, spoken on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border — do so through Title VI institutions, she said.

Title VI programs experienced a decade of growth after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks highlighted the need for experts on Middle Eastern language and culture, with increased funding supported by both political parties as well as the Bush administration. Still, in the scope of the federal budget, Title VI programs are “a small investment,” said Victor Johnson, senior adviser for public policy with NAFSA: Association of International Educators. “If there’s going to be cuts, these programs that educate Americans about the world should be last in line, it seems to us, for cuts,” he said.

But in the contentious, high-stakes negotiations that averted a government shutdown, they appear to have been a casualty to other priorities.

Negotiations that are pressed for time and focus on cutting “big-ticket items” leave less time or opportunity to debate smaller programs like Title VI, Herrin said. And pressure to cut across the board put focus on specific legislative priorities.

“The typical way somebody responds when a constellation of programs are called into question is to defend the top priority ones,” he said. “Clearly in higher education, the Pell [Grant] Program was among the top priorities.”

There is no indication that international programs weren’t a priority for the Obama administration, he said. Still, keeping Pell Grants at a $5,550 maximum meant that other programs had to absorb cuts instead.

With fights over increasing the debt ceiling (the amount the nation can borrow) and the 2012 budget looming, the 2011 allocations, as they stand right now, do not bode well for 2012 and beyond, Kazanjian said. The Obama administration’s budget request included level funding for Title VI programs before the budget cut, but she said she does not know if that will hold.

“This may be a game changer,” she said. “The question would be, is it going to be possible in 2012, when they’re again going to be looking for budget cuts, for these programs to be restored? It doesn’t look promising at the moment.”

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U Montana May Cut Critical Foreign Language Program for Troops

Now wouldn’t this be a ridiculous move?!!

Allyson Wellor for, April 11, 2011:

A University of Montana program that helps teach foreign languages to troops before deployment may close if Congress cuts funding.

The program teaches troops about the language, history, and culture of the country they will be deployed to.

The director of the Critical Language and Culture Program, Don Loranger, says the program is too important and valuable to be axed. He says budget cuts may affect the program, but he doesn’t think the funding will completely stop.

Since the program started, it’s logged more than 165,000 hours of teaching.

“It’s a very important program for our soldiers and very important for what our security needs are in the regions. They come out with a very well rounded education about the region, about the tribal areas, costumes, and religions,” said Loranger. “If you’re going to win the hearts and minds of people, you better understand their culture and language.”

Senator Max Baucus has also worked to press the Defense Department to keep the program going.

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