Despite state budget cuts and the impact that has had on higher education across the state, U.C Berkeley has been able to make gains in its efforts to keep up with student demands for courses they see as critical. One course area that had been threatened was foreign language, which is consistently popular and often over-enrolled.
An announcement made public a few days ago by campus leaders will make a lot of students more hopeful about landing a spot in the basic foreign language course of their choice. More than half-a-million dollars will be allotted to various foreign language courses in the 2011-2012 year; this will result in over 30 classes being added.
This funding is part of a larger effort across the campus to ensure that students have access to key undergraduate courses that are often enrolled above maximum levels. During these budget conscious times attention to such enrollment demands is crucial. Previously other areas, such as lower-division math and science courses, and reading and composition courses were allotted additional funding. According to George Breslauer, executive vice-chancellor and provost, some of the recent undergraduate fee increases, as well as additional revenue generated by the increased recruiting effort for out-of-state and international students, is targeted for enhancing undergraduate instruction quality at the school.
One critical area that serves a broad community of students, but whose needs were not being met, is foreign language. While only five-percent of students taking foreign language courses are actually majoring in those languages, these courses are vital to other students as well. Student journalists, graduate students, and others who are looking for deeper understanding and insight into their own family background or culture also take language courses, so demand is high. In addition, in an increasingly global society, knowledge of foreign language is important.
Funding for an array of languages evaluated on student demand for such courses will go to: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese language programs. In addition, the campus has a commitment to giving extra support to African language instruction in conjunction with a Title VI grant this year. Additional funding will go to the Berkeley Language Center which provides language laboratories and equipment to both the students and instructors involved within the language programs.
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