SQA defies critics as it plans to cull Russian Higher

Languages and humanities
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) will press ahead with plans to abolish Russian Higher at the end of 2014/15 despite a sharp rise in the number of candidates taking it this year.

Linguists and businesses have criticised the decision, which is apparently at odds with the Scottish government’s new strategy to try to reverse a decline in language learning.

In 2014, the number of pupils sitting Russian Higher rose to 52 from 36, which, though relatively low, represents a 44 per cent increase on the previous year and puts it at its highest level since 1992. In contrast, Classical Greek Higher was taken by only 14 candidates this year, but the subject has been protected for its cultural importance.

Garry Clark, head of policy and public affairs at the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the move was a backwards step that would be harmful for trade and cultural links with Russia – Europe’s second biggest economy – as well as surrounding territories where the language is spoken widely, including Central Asia.

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