Arts faculty: not just English

The Faculty of Arts will be a bilingual faculty, where Dutch and English will be used in equal measure. The RUG wants to switch to all English.
By Peter Keizer / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

According to the faculty board, the choice for bilingualism is to ensure that their employees know where they stand. ‘We want to be a faculty where Dutch-speaking people are able to properly express themselves in English – both verbally and in writing – and where international staff is at least passively proficient in Dutch.’

In deciding this, the arts faculty is deviating from the Board of Directors, which has decided on a ‘completely English approach, rather than bilingualism’. In 2015, the RUG board made English compulsory. Speaking Dutch is allowed, and is being encouraged with language lessons. In August, the Board of Directors decided that all formal documentation intended for the University Council would from then on only be written in English.

International or bilingual

According to the arts faculty, both languages are of equal importance. ‘The Dutch language is characteristic of our faculty, our city, and our country. By actively using Dutch at our faculty, we are grounding our staff in the local community, we maintain the option of hiring people without a scientific education, and we’ll prevent creating a university community that excludes non-academics’, the faculty board writes. English, too, is characteristic of the faculty, the university, and the international, global research community, according to the faculty board.

The university has decided on English because it wants to be a ‘truly international university’, the Board of Directors told the University Council in a written missive. The arts faculty, on the other hand, aims to be a ‘fully bilingual faculty’, they told the Council.

However, both acknowledge that having all documentation translated would be cost prohibitive. According to the RUG board, the cost of making all formal documentation bilingual would be one million euros a year, while providing English language training for the staff the Office of the University, the department that supplies policy and management support, would only cost 100,000 euros a year.



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