‘Nothing less than shambolic’: UoB Modern Language students react to substitute year abroad teaching

Many UoB students have had their year abroads cancelled this year

Due to the cancellation of  international year abroad placements or the inability of some abroad universities to provide online education, some UoB Modern Language students had been promised temporary learning materials by the University of Birmingham itself.

Sophie* a UoB language student is disappointed with the lack of university teaching in substitute for her year abroad. “How can one hour of virtual learning contact per week substitute for the 6 months’ worth of constant language exposure that I would have had should I have been allowed to travel abroad?,” she told The Birmingham Tab.

The university has responded to this, telling The Birmingham Tab “Our staff are regularly in contact with student representatives to ensure that the University can offer the most effective response for our students, given the extremely difficult situation the world is facing.”

Moscow, one of the year abroad locations

For those unable to go abroad, some students have received learning from their placement universities. So far, Georgia revealed her teaching has been great. “Other people who have just had the University’s provisions haven’t been so lucky.” she told The Birmingham Tab.

Sophie* a UoB student is disappointed with the online learning provided on UoB’s programme. For her, it consists of a mere hour-long language café a week and tutorials, leaving her to largely try to improve her skills herself. “These alone won’t replace being in France, I think they should have given us a basic plan that we could follow.” she told The Birmingham Tab.

The Birmingham Tab spoke to the university who responded “whilst we recognize that, for the purpose of a degree in Modern Languages, it can be difficult to equal the experience of living abroad, we would like to stress that our ‘year abroad’ team has tried to be as creative and responsive as possible to student requests and suggestions in offering a virtual year abroad package that is varied, substantial and effective.”

“The Department of Modern Languages has been active and innovative in developing the virtual year abroad package for our students. This has involved a variety of initiatives designed to hone not only the four key skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening – but also the cultural and intellectual awareness of students in relation with the linguistic areas they are dealing with in their studies,” the university continued.

“We also provide students with the opportunity to access second-year modules in our department, as well as wider learning opportunities such as MOOCs,” they continued.


*Some names have been changed for the privacy of the individuals.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

•’The work I put in is devalued by the coursework’: Year abroad students let down by UoB

•’I don’t find it safe to stay in Birmingham’: UoB international students returned home before the latest lockdown

We asked UoB students if they are planning on going home for Christmas in the assigned travel period