The Nuffield Languages Inquiry and Nuffield Languages Programme

The Foundation set up the Nuffield Languages Inquiry in 1998 to review the UK’s capability in languages. A committee chaired by Sir Trevor McDonald and Sir John Boyd was asked to consider the following questions and to make recommendations:

  • What capability in languages will the UK need in the next twenty years if it is to fulfil its economic, strategic, social and cultural aims and responsibilities, and the aspirations of its citizens?

  • To what extent do present policies and arrangements meet these needs?

  • What strategic planning and initiatives will be required in the light of the present position?

Following the conclusion of the inquiry, we established the Nuffield Languages Programme to help implement the recommendations.

The final report

In May 2000, the Inquiry published its final report Languages: the next generation.

The Nuffield Languages Programme

The Nuffield Languages Programme was established in 2002. Its brief was to:

  • help translate the earlier Nuffield Language Inquiry's key messages into action;
  • promote specific initiatives, selecting a range of projects to benefit from Nuffield funding and seeking additional material support from other sources where appropriate;
  • contribute to policy debate, including internationally;
  • secure promotion of the importance of languages in the UK, including maintaining the high profile for languages achieved by the Inquiry;
  • encourage leadership and strategic action on the part of government with the aim of making the group's existence unnecessary within two years.
  • The Programme’s Steering Group organised activities within two categories:
  • commissioning major policy-development projects;
  • awarding grants to projects with the potential to enhance opportunities for people of all ages to learn languages in the UK.
Further information


Members of the Nuffield Languages Programme Steering Group (PDF)

Nuffield Languages Programme policy development projects (PDF)

List of project grants (PDF) made under the Nuffield Languages Programme



'E-language learning for adults: the report of the BBC/Nuffield joint project on blended learning', May 2003

Download report (PDF)

'The full evaluation of the BBC/Nuffield prototype blended courses, Selwyn N and Smalley N, Cardiff University, March 2003

Download evaluation (PDF)

Open letter to the acting National Director: the Steering Group's detailed commentary on the National Languages Strategy, March 2003

Download letter (PDF)

A new Landscape for Languages: languages in HE and 16-19 education, February 2003

Download report (PDF)

Learning Ladder for Languages: a feasibility study into the possibilities, risks and benefits of a graded recognition system, June 2002

Download report (PDF)