Startpage for Swedish National Agency for Higher Education

Please note! The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education was closed down on 31 December 2012. Instead two new agencies have been established: the Swedish Council for Higher Education and the Swedish Higher Education Authority. This website will continue to operate as the new agencies will have links to information it contains.  

2004:9 R

Evaluation of Courses in Oriental and African Languages and Middle Eastern Studies at Swedish Universities and Colleges

The evaluation report presents findings from a scrutiny of education, at undergraduate and postgraduate level, in the following 16 degree subjects: African Languages, Arabic, Aramaic/Syrian, Assyriology, Hebrew, Hindi, Indology, Iranian Languages, Comparative Indo-European Linguistic Research, Kurdish, Middle Eastern Studies, Swahili, South-East Asian Studies, Tamil and Turkish Languages.

All the subjects evaluated, with the possible exception of Arabic, may be described as extremely small in terms of the numbers of undergraduate and PhD students and teachers/researchers, and also with reference to their representation at various educational institutions. In several of the subjects evaluated, education is offered only at a single institution in Sweden.

The report, which comprises an introductory short section for which the National Agency for Higher Education is responsible and a section written by the assessor group, provides a general presentation of the subjects concerned. It also presents the specific strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of each of the 16 degree programmes. The assessor group´s report also contains comparative presentations of the situation in the study-programme areas concerned, i.e. ‘Semitic Languages´, which is here taken to include Arabic, Aramaic/Syrian and Hebrew, Indology including Hindi, Tamil and South-East Asian Studies, African Languages including Swahili, and Middle Eastern Studies — that are available at more than one educational institution.

The assessor group indicates a range of problems that are more or less shared by all the subjects evaluated. One of these is that the current allocation system is disadvantageous to these study-intensive subjects, with their constantly low student numbers. Another is that teacher resources are generally inadequate: they must be reinforced to reduce the vulnerability of these study programmes. A third is that postgraduate study programmes need developing with respect to theory and method.

The report emphasises the importance of bringing about genuine and formalised forms of collaboration, national and Nordic, for the various language areas. Closer collaboration among departments and subjects/subject areas at the various educational institutions is also necessary.

The assessor group concludes its report with a discussion on such issues as finances and organisation, student influence, postgraduate education and the situation of PhD students. On the basis of the assessor group´s report, the National Agency for Higher Education questions Göteborg University´s right to award Bachelor´s and Master´s degrees in Hebrew, and also Uppsala University´s right to award these degrees in Hindi, Kurdish and Tamil.

The Agency considers that Lund University does not have sufficient capacity to offer postgraduate education in Semitic Languages. It also finds that Uppsala University lacks sufficient capacity to provide postgraduate education in Assyriology, Indology, Iranian Languages, Comparative Indo-European Linguistic Research, Semitic Languages and Turkish Languages.