BON loses lawsuit on English education

The arguments presented by Beter Onderwijs Nederland (BON) were “admittedly passionate”, the judge writes in her ruling, but they still lost to the legal arguments presented by the two universities.

The BON association targeted the study programs of psychology at University of Twente and Maastricht University. They allegedly switched to English as their main language without any need for it.

But the two universities presented all kinds of arguments that BON was unable to counter. The universities are located near the borders, and feel that a high-quality, international learning environment is beneficial to the quality of the education. And besides, the scientific literature is all in English anyway.

High level
BON had little to counter that, the judge says, aside from general protest against Englification, about which the judge cannot take a position. BON states, for example, that English education hinders the communication skills of students in Dutch. It’s allegedly a lot harder to reach a high, academic level.

It’s possible universities are switching to offering English-language study programs without any need to do so, the judge says, but that’s something the Education Inspection concerns itself with, and that study is still pending. The preliminary relief judge thinks it’s “not opportune” to get ahead of that study, and make a ruling with far-reaching consequences, such as banning Englification.

The minister of Education must supervise Englification, and can, if necessary, establish additional laws and regulations “that do justice to all current circumstances and interests involved,” the judge adds.

Interestingly enough, BON was considered admissible. The lawyers of the University of Twente especially, tried very hard, with all kinds of legal manoeuvres, to fight this point. Why, for example, hadn’t BON tried to discuss things directly with the university first? Isn’t that how things are supposed to go?

Not only has BON been calling attention to this subject for years, hence the university should have been able to be aware of all objections against Englification, but the judge also says it’s “evident” that BON wouldn’t have gotten a single step further in a discussion with the University of Twente.

Translation: Indra Spronk