Manchester Metropolitan University is set to be the UK’s first higher education institution to offer a degree in Urdu.
The new undergraduate courses, available from September 2015, will offer students the possibility to study Urdu alongside a range of other subjects such as English or Business, as part of a combined honours degree.
The official language of Pakistan is spoken by almost 100 million people worldwide, including 400,000 in the UK.
And Dr Sharon Handley, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Languages and Social Science, believes there is a very real demand for the course.
“I am delighted that the Department of Languages, Information and Communications is launching a Minor Route in Urdu,” she said.
“This initiative will enable many students who did not have the opportunity to study Urdu at school to do so in combination with another subject to degree level, opening up many new opportunities to them.
“MMU is leading on a range of initiatives to promote a diversification of languages in response to the strategic needs of the Government and Business, and this is an important step forwards, also illustrating MMU’s commitment to serving the diverse communities within this region.”
An average of 5000 pupils each year take Urdu at GCSE, making it the fourth most popular language at that level behind French, Spanish and German.
The language can also be taken in UK schools at A Level, but has never before been offered beyond secondary school level.
Students of the new degree courses will learn how the language has been used in film and literature, and will also use Urdu to discuss topics related to their core subject.
Sheraz Ali will be one of the lecturers teaching the new undergraduate degree course and believes the course will attract students from different backgrounds – not just native speakers of the language.
“There is a demand for Urdu-related jobs not just in this country but also in many others, especially within professions such as teaching and the health and legal sectors,” he said.
“The Urdu degree is open to everyone, not just people from the South Asian diaspora. We live in a multicultural society, where language isn’t only a pile of words, but something which can bring people together.”
Image courtesy of Akif A Khan with thanks.