UCL becomes first uni to accept sign language as equivalent to a GCSE

Knowing BSL will now count towards UCL’s entry requirements

UCL has become the first university to accept British Sign Language (BSL) as a modern foreign language GCSE qualification.

At present, UCL is the only UK university which requires applicants to have a modern foreign language qualification, typically a grade C or above at GCSE. Failing that, undergraduates are required to complete a qualification during their program, usually in the form of 15 credit modules.

The movement to recognise British Sign Language as a modern foreign language was proposed at UCL’s recent Education Committee Meeting, where it was met with approval. The university has welcomed the change, suggesting it will benefit future doctors, language and speech therapists, and teachers.

British Sign Language was established as a language in its own right by the UK government in 2003, and it is estimated that there are 87,000 deaf people in the UK. In 2015, a survey by the National Deaf Children’s Society found that more people are willing to learn sign language than French or German.

The OBE chair of the British Deaf Association, Dr. Terry Riley said: “Teaching BSL is essential for a more inclusive environment for deaf learners, and helps to improve communication and understanding between deaf and hearing communities. We hope that more people will be inspired to start a BSL course.”

This change to UCL’s entry requirements will be introduced for the 2017/2018 academic year.