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Foto: Idris van Heffen

‘Choice to teach in Dutch or English should be for study to decide’

Lennart Bolwijn,
13 juli 2017 - 15:00

Programme leaders should be able to choose whether a study is taught in Dutch or English, concludes a study conducted on behalf of Dutch minister of Education, Culture and Science, Jet Bussemaker.

With the internationalisation and anglification of higher education becoming increasingly hot topics of discussion over the years, Bussemaker had asked the KNAW (The Dutch Royal Academy for Sciences) to explore the language policies of universities and universities of applied sciences. Proponents of teaching in English point to an increasingly globalised society and labour market and the increasingly internationalising character of scientific institutions. While its opponents worry about the quality of education, upwards accessibility and a gap between the academia and the rest of the society.

Labour market
The research commission concluded that the decision as to how much English should be spoken should be left up to the individual study programmes, as each course has different goals and targets. Studies that prepare students for an international labour market are, for instance, more likely to run courses in English than those that focus on the Dutch labour market.

The study concludes that the internationalisation of higher education is ‘irreversible’ while acknowledging that it presents challenges. For instance, it notes that investment would be needed to be able to meet a certain standard of teaching, and that teaching in English could present a barrier to study for certain students.