MAASTRICHT. Give new foreign bachelor’s students a free Dutch language course to help their integration into the university and city. With this proposal, the Executive Board is giving in to a long-cherished wish of various student factions. The Board also suggested that students should be given vouchers that they can exchange for language courses of their choice during their time as a student.
These plans are included in the new memo ‘Language Proficiency at Maastricht University’. The memo has been forwarded to the university council with the request to make a choice from the long list of recommendations.
The starting point for the memo is the UM’s professed bilingualism, Dutch and English, as well as the practical motto ‘English unless…’. A sufficient command of at least English, but often also of Dutch, is considered indispensible for a university referring to itself as international. It is also in line with the desire to prepare foreign students for the regional and Dutch labour market and in doing so to bind them to our country. Partly because of this, the suggestion has been made to integrate the Dutch language courses more with lessons in Dutch culture. These are also thought to be useful to employees. The investment would cost the UM 75,000 euro, as well as a structural 25,000 each year. In addition, more should be done about intercultural skills in general, to prepare students for international careers.
There is no intention to make the Dutch courses compulsory for foreign students. But a command of English at least is not optional. Students are expected to improve their level and there must be a clearly defined exit level. Clearer requirements must also be set for members of staff: they should be able to prove during their job interviews that they are reasonably fluent in English. Language skills should also be part of the required Basic Qualification Education (BKO) requirements.