UC | Anglicization offers opportunities
Some time ago now, the University Council agreed with the plan to adapt TU/e’s language policy. Where possible, administrative bodies and the university will switch to English. Last March, the association Better Education in the Netherlands (BON) called on the House of Representatives to call a halt to the ‘anglicization’ of higher education in a letter that was signed by 194 ‘prominent figures,’ including five TU/e professors. But doesn’t this run counter to the interests of TU/e and the internationally orientated Eindhoven Brainport?
The signatories of BON’s appeal stated that English-taught bachelor’s and master’s programs are a ‘massive violation’ of the Higher Education and Research Act (WHW). They say this is because there often are no substantive grounds for switching to English. In addition, they fear that English-taught programs will lead to a deterioration of education because Dutch students and teachers tend to have higher language skills in their native language.
A worrying development for a university that counts the international classroom as one of its spearheads. The reason for the international classroom is to promote diversity, to feed an inclusive environment for international students, and - more importantly - to anticipate an environment that is in need of internationally orientated engineers. Eindhoven’s international appeal has a positive effect on Dutch students as well, because they profit from the knowledge of international research talent.
In determining the language policy, much thought has been put into the potentially negative effects the policy might have. One of the major objections our students and teachers have, is that they do not want to be forced into speaking English. That is why the Integral Language Policy’s starting point is that ‘language should not be a hindrance, but an instrument that promotes mutual communication and community forming instead.’ Without the presence of English-speaking colleagues or students, there would be no need to speak English.
The signatories of BON’s appeal also reacted to the legislative proposal drafted by minister of education Ingrid van Engelshoven in January. This ‘Taal en toegankelijkheid’ (Language and Accessibility) proposal makes it more difficult for universities to impose an intake restriction. This should only apply to different language parts of an educational track in the future. This way, the minister takes Dutch Higher Education a serious step closer to BON.
I hope that TU/e will usher in its new language policy in a positive manner, despite the legislative proposal and BON’s resistance. That way, more and more internationally educated engineers will graduate, and there is a strong need for them in Brainport’s ecosystem. Therefore, don’t think of the new language policy as a threat, but as an opportunity instead.