‘Politics has to undo out-of-control Englification’
The call to the Parliament is an initiative from the Association Better Education Netherlands (BON), which has worried about the Englification of higher education for years, and has already gone to court about it once, unsuccessfully.
Nearly one hundred (ex-)professors signed the call. Among them are a number of UU professors, such as Frits van Oostrom, Maarten Kleinhans, Jelle Reumer and Beatrice de Graaf. The text is also signed by more than eighty “authors and other prominent figures from the social and cultural sectors”, such as Frits Abrahams, Adriaan van Dis, Geert Mak, Job Cohen, and Aleid Truijens.
Universities are breaking the law
The authors of the letter state that currently, three quarters of all Master’s programmes, as well as a growing number of Bachelor’s programmes, are now taught in English, which means universities and universities of applied sciences are breaking the law. The law states, after all, that Dutch is the main language used in higher education, unless there are compelling reasons not to.
The main reason universities and universities of applied sciences are offering more and more English-taught programmes, the authors of the letter say, isn’t globalisation, but the fact that the institutions can draw more international students, which is very profitable for the organisations. “The battle for the ‘market share’ is the primary motivation behind Englification of education.”
The English used by students and teachers is often said to be lacking, which has negative consequences for the quality and accessibility of higher education. Additionally, it’s said to be done at the expense of the Dutch language, and the opportunities graduates have in the Dutch labour market.
Out of balance
The authors of the letter say its “undisputed that English, next to Dutch, has a prominent place in our academic education”. But they say the situation’s out of balance. “If the current developments continue in this way, our universities will be completely Englified within a few years – with all the consequences that implies. That means Englification will have to be reversed to a degree. This calls for courage and decisiveness from our government.”
Parliament will be asked to take a critical look at the draft legislation ‘Language and accessibility’ by Minister Van Engelshoven. The law should actually protect the Dutch language, propose stricter requirements for offering study programmes in a different language, and ensure a ‘revival of Dutch-taught education’”, the letter says.