International supermarket chain Lidl has announced plans to fund Oxford University students.
It will be sponsoring competitions with cash prizes up to £500, as well as funding a graduate enrolled in a masters degree in Modern German.
Education experts have noted a decline in the number of students studying German, which some have suggested is due to the language’s association with war. Oxford Professor Ian Watson has stated the department of medieval and modern languages is delighted that a major German company is stepping forward to offer support. “The package of support that Lidl is so generously donating will allow us to raise the profile of the subject of German at Oxford at all stages of the undergraduate degree as well as for postgraduate study,” said Watson.
Lidl is a German-owned business but has a strong base in the UK. The company would like to strengthen ties between its home headquarters and overseas branches, and have bilingual staff would be a huge advantage in achieving this.
“As a British supermarket with roots in Germany, we saw this opportunity as a great fit and are incredibly proud to be working with Oxford to support both undergrad and graduate students of German,” said Lidl’s UK CEO Christian Härtnagel.
Suzanne O’Farrell, curriculum and assessment specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said that German is and would remain an important economic language, and a decline in speakers would be disastrous. "There needs to be some urgent action taken or promotion like the Lidl scholarship to turn the tide,” said O’Farrel. "If we cut that off we are going to do ourselves some damage. As a trading partner, Germany is just as important as always."