The UvA received almost 50 per cent more applications than last year, 44 per cent of which were from abroad. Three study programmes have since announced a numerus fixus because they cannot handle the influx. Should the UvA still be focusing on the international market? Communication Science student Ken Chew and former UvA professor Josse de Voogd argue it out in the Op-Ed section of this week’s Folia.
Chew, who was recently elected as a member of the Central Student’s Council for the UvA Sociaal party, believes that internationalisation is a good idea but that the university will need to make some changes to be able to fully cater to international students. Now, he says, there’s the chance some get left out in the cold.
He also suggests that the university may need to re-look at the way it teaches its international programmes. ‘While the way Dutch courses are taught may work for Dutch students, this might not be relevant or applicable to the international programmes,’ Chew says.
Lastly Chew, who comes from Malaysia, thinks study programmes should include more non-Western content, particularly for the humanities and social sciences. Chew: ‘In this era of globalisation, it’s imperative for students to be aware of different ideologies and cultural contexts for them to become informed, critical thinkers’.
Geography professor Josse de Voogd would also like to see different perspectives included in the study programme, but thinks one should be wary of the effect of internationalisation actually narrowing perspective.
‘Recently the university decided to teach a fieldwork course in urban planning in English,’ De Voogd recalls. ‘This had the effect of limiting the research area to the parts of Amsterdam were people speak a lot of English. Anglicisation causes narrow-mindedness. It creates a bubble for a likeminded, higher educated class that doesn’t know how “real” society works anymore.’
Freelance professor De Voogd thinks that the extent to which the labour market is globalising is overrated. Furthermore, very talented and intelligent researchers who do not speak English very well often lose their places to internationals. ‘Not speaking or writing good enough English can end a career,’ de Voogd says.
Read the two opinion articles in this week’s Folia.