Today’s poll: Should language degree places be offered to students who only have a GCSE in the subject?

Reports suggest that, in order to fill places after a drop off in demand, universities are offering places on modern language degree courses to students who only have GCSEs in the language(s) to be studied and who have not taken it at A level. Is this ok or not?

[yop_poll id=”248″]



We have received the following message from Professor Catherine Leglu from Reading University:

The article by the Sunday Times, which you have reproduced and are running a survey around, is inaccurate. Ab initio language teaching is the norm in university education and a lot of universaities have always taken post-GCSE entrants at ab initio level. The journalists who wrote this story seem to have misrepresented the issues, despite having spoken to Reading’s Dept of Modern Languages and European Studies’s Language Co-ordinator.
We have published a blog post giving the facts and explaining why GCSE level qualification is anything but a problem in itself.

best wishes,

Prof. Catherine Leglu
Dept of Modern Languages and European Studies

Professor Catherine Leglu
Dott. Enza Siciliano Verruccio

Universities taking students for languages who only have GCSE in the subjects
Pupil behaviour better at academies and free schools
Categories: Poll.


  1. PeterHutchinso5

    SchoolsImprove Amazed at the 36%. They obviously have no idea about the jump between GCSE and A Level.

  2. Becky_StJohn

    PeterHutchinso5 SchoolsImprove I started a degree in Italian without either GCSE or A level – got a 2:1 and a job in Rome…

  3. feismother

    SchoolsImprove Knew many at university who studied a language from scratch. (70s) – “Ab initio” as it was termed.

  4. EdgeHill_MaST

    feismother SchoolsImprove a term which presumably required you to have good language skills to translate 😉

  5. EdgeHill_MaST

    feismother SchoolsImprove and yes, I also knew many in this category, particularly in relation to languages not usually offered in schools

  6. PeterHutchinso5

    Becky_StJohn SchoolsImprove Well done, but the exception doesn’t prove the rule. My son did Spanish an initio at University and got a 2-1.

  7. PeterHutchinso5

    Becky_StJohn But as a general rule, I don’t think a GCSE is good preparation for a degree in MFL. IMO after 36 years experience in MFL!

  8. Becky_StJohn

    PeterHutchinso5 Agreed, but is it better to have a GCSE or no experience of the language at all? Got to get our linguists from somewhere!

  9. PeterHutchinso5

    Becky_StJohn I know. Perhaps my idea of what a degree ought to mean is a problem for me, being a bit traditionalist.

  10. PeterHutchinso5

    Becky_StJohn Don’t know your situation, but perhaps you already had proven ability/qualification in another MFL before your Italian degree?

  11. PeterHutchinso5

    Becky_StJohn I’m 64, but teach French 1 day a week to classes 1-6 in a Primary School. Possibly our best hope of creating more linguists?

Let us know what you think...