The Role of the FCO in UK Government

Written evidence from the Society for Italian Studies

1. On behalf of the Society for Italian Studies (SIS), we would like to submit the following considerations to the Inquiry on the Role of the FCO in UK Government.

2. The Society for Italian Studies is the UK’s national subject association for Italian studies, bringing together colleagues working in universities across the country.

3. In response to the Committee's request for "submissions which address, in particular, ... the FCO's role in the management and implementation of EU business for the UK Government", we would like to point out the urgency of ensuring that a sustainable stream of graduates in European languages continues to flow from our universities. The SIS would like to highlight the danger to a number of modern languages departments in the UK, and to suggest that the FCO helps ensure that the strategic importance of modern languages – for national economic and political success – become a key consideration for government policy.

4. The SIS would like to point out that recent speeches and comments by the Foreign Secretary on the importance of UK citizens gaining positions of influence within EU institutions does not yet appear to have influenced government higher education policy; there is little evidence of the strategic importance of European languages being reflected in government plans for HE.

3 December 2010