[Translate to English:] Do you speak English? Foto | Shutterstock

Off we go! NVAO to test English

Why exactly is this program in English? Starting February the inspectors of higher education will be asking this question in their accreditation of programs, held once every six years.

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Programs will soon have to explain how the language in which students are taught adds to the program's quality, writes the Ministry of Education today. The language ability of lecturers will also be assessed.

English-taught education has supporters and opponents. Opponents are worried that the only motive for programs becoming English-taught is the pursuit of profit; they simply wish to recruit as many foreign students as possible, that's the criticism. The quality of the education, they believe, suffers.

Whereas supporters hold the opinion that English-taught education prepares students for the international context in which they will later work. They will have to deal with people from any number of countries and cultures, so it is a good idea to get used to that while still studying. And as for those foreign students, they are often highly motivated, otherwise they wouldn't come here specially.


But because it is virtually impossible to talk in generalities, the question remains rather abstract: even the fervent opponents at Beter Onderwijs Nederland (Better Education in the Netherlands), which took legal action against the anglicization, recognize that some programs could be taught in English.

And so this political tool was an obvious choice: let the programs simply explain. If the arguments are insufficient, the program has two options: either give better grounds for the language choice or switch back to Dutch. “In extreme cases, the NVAO can withdraw its accreditation,” writes the ministry.

Whether the opponents feel reassured will depend on whether to their mind the inspector is strict enough and will indeed force programs to rescind their language choice.

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