Both Dutch and internationals asked to invest in Dutch language 

The UG will always be a multilingual university. Nevertheless, it’s asking its Dutch and international staff and students to ‘invest in their Dutch language skills’. It’s one of the principles of the UG’s new policy on language and culture.

These principles, which the board of directors approved back in January, are now being discussed with other university parties, including the university council. 

‘A lot is still uncertain and a lot is still unknown’, said senior policy officer of education Nynke de Deugd during a university council committee meeting on Thursday. In rector magnificus Jacquelien Scherpen’s absence, she explained the plans. ‘This is partly due to the fact that the Internationalisation in Balance act hasn’t been approved yet. But we can’t just sit here and do nothing. So we’re taking action when and where we can.’

More Dutch

In its policy, the UG needs to find a balance between maintaining the international work environment universities can’t do without, and curbing the spread of English, which the government wants universities to do. 

The UG opts for bilingualism according to the criteria of the new law, but not everything goes in two languages. Employee participation must primarily be in Dutch. Using an interpreter, which the council is currently doing, is a best practice for the faculties.

Are students willing to invest in the Dutch language? UKrant asked them.

In the future, both Dutch and international students will be obligated to put in an effort to improve their Dutch language skills. This should put an end to Dutch students’ deteriorating grasp of the language and help internationals with finding a job in the Dutch labour market. 

Staff won’t be spared, either. They’ll be expected to master both Dutch and English on a level that suits their position. The university will ‘stimulate’ and ‘facilitate’ them to reach that level. 

Many questions

The university council members mainly had questions during the Thursday meeting. What consequences will these new principles have? Who will be paying for Dutch classes? Will the Language Centre’s courses be expanded? ‘Already, the available spots for a Dutch course are gone in five minutes’, said Maria Gomez Puig with Lijst Calimero.

Dinie Bouwman of the Personeelsfractie referred to an article in Onderwijsblad of the education trade union, about a teacher who had already done three language courses. ‘This person would still need 700 hours to reach C1 level. Where is that time supposed to come from? Are we not doing something that is not possible, just to move along with that law?’

De Deugd and her colleague Asker Pelgrom were unable to provide concrete answers. No one was able to say anything about the financial consequences with any certainty. ‘The first step is to figure out whether the existing courses can be scaled up’, Pelgrom explained. However, De Deugd added, it’s clear that the Language Centre won’t be able to take on everything.

CORRECTION: The original text stated that the new law Internationalisation in Balance Act (WIB) requires that co-determination must be in Dutch. This is incorrect. The text has been corrected.

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