Language proficiency not up to scratch? Then take a course

UM language policy


MAASTRICHT. To what extent academic and support staff have mastered the required languages will be mapped out in the coming months. Anyone who does not meet the required English and/or Dutch language skills level will have to start working to improve.

The UM Language Policy 2018-2021 memo, which was recently discussed by the University Council’s Strategy Committee, states that academic staff should have a good command of the language in which he or she teaches (level C1: almost native speaker). Support staff working in bilingual surroundings, should be able to speak Dutch and English reasonably fluently (at least level B1, but this could be higher if the job demands this).

Brush up

Those who do not reach the desired level, may brush up their language proficiency from the department’s budget. They will get three years to do so. The language proficiency of staff at the Faculty of Health Medicine and Life sciences was already mapped out in 2017. That faculty served as an example, Executive President Martin Paul told the committee. “We would now like to introduce this across the UM so that we are all aligned by 2021.”

Anyone from the academic staff who does not meet the requirements after that, may only teach in the language in which they are fluent, while non-academic staff will be transferred to a position in which the language level is not an issue.

Foreign members of staff will be encouraged to have at least level B1 in Dutch. From now on, it will be standard practice to mention language requirements in job advertisements.

Free Dutch,French and German courses

In addition to the existing free Dutch courses, foreign students will get the opportunity to improve their German and French, also free of charge. This is for those who aspire to a job on the German or French labour market, already have some fluency in the language, but want to improve their level. Furthermore, there will also be a free course in Dutch professional written communication for all Dutch bachelor's and master's students who study in English, but who want to work in the Netherlands. The UM will also investigate whether there is a need for courses in other languages, with a view to improving career prospects.  

The University Council committee felt that this was a good plan, but shouldn't the price of the Language Centre courses also be looked at, which are high. Paul: “Let us first see what languages we need. And if we feel this is an important issue, we can include it in the discussion about quality agreements (spending money that has become available as a result of the abolishing of the basic grant, ed.).”


Language proficiency not up to scratch? Then take a course
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