Evaluation of undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Romance languages in Swedish universities and university colleges. Part II: Spanish
This report shows the results of the quality audit of the undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the subject Spanish at universities and university colleges that the National Agency of Higher Education carried out during 2004. The report, which is the second part of three evaluations of Romance languages, covers undergraduate studies at nine institutes of higher education and postgraduate studies at five such institutes.
The National Agency for Higher Education entrusted this commission to an external group made up of four subject-experts from Denmark and Norway, one postgraduate student and two undergraduate students. This group visited the nine institutes of higher education between May and October 2004. Four or five group members participated in each visit, and the secretary was Anton Ridderstad from the National Agency for Higher Education.
The assessment group´s report consists of two parts: one containing general impressions and recommendations; and the other descriptions, impressions and recommendations specific to the respective university or university college. The group itself is responsible for the contents in its part of the report. The National Agency of Higher Education´s decision and reflections, that introduce the report, are based on the comments of the group.
The subject Spanish has expanded rapidly during the 1990s in the Swedish higher education system. As far as the National Agency for Higher Education is concerned this has meant a substantial increase in the number of students studying the Spanish language. Noted at the same time is that interest in German and, to a certain extent, French has declined both in comprehensive and secondary schools and at academic levels that require university or university college entrance qualifications. At higher educational institutes, however, this shift in interest has resulted in a re-allocation of resources that redound to the advantage of Spanish as a subject. In some quarters Spanish is still regarded as a “small" language compared to the traditional school languages German and French, in spite of the fact that more people study Spanish than these other languages. Far too often a language is generally regarded from a purely instrumental point of view, and not as a tool for inter-cultural understanding. The assessment group is constantly on the look out for a national language policy from the state.
Beginners´ courses are now being organised in many places in order to strengthen the student population. The assessment group states that the demand for such courses is great, but that they do not function generally as a recruitment base for further studies in the subject. Reasons also exist for questioning their academic level.
On the basis of the assessment group´s report, the National Agency for Higher Education has reservations about the right to have masters degree examinations in Spanish at the universities of Linköping and Umeå. Moreover the Agency is of the view that the Umeå University does not have sufficient academic resources for operating postgraduate research in Spanish.