Universities: For the time being no new English-language bachelor’s programmes

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Universities: For the time being no new English-language bachelor’s programmes

Universities come up with measures: more Dutch-language studies, better Dutch language skills

08-02-2024 · News

THE NETHERLANDS/ MAASTRICHT. A temporary stop on new English-language bachelor's programmes, more Dutch-language studies and better Dutch language skills among lecturers and students. Universities are not waiting for a decision on internationalisation in The Hague, but are already taking matters into their own hands.

Minister of Education, Dijkgraaf, has been working for months on his bill ‘Internationalisering in balans’. Among other things, this should protect Dutch in higher education. Moreover, some universities are very troubled by the intake of international students, for instance because of the housing problem in cities like Amsterdam, or because Dutch nationals have less chance of attending a programme of their choice.
The universities themselves also see these bottlenecks, but they do not want a single generic measure (converting all English-language bachelor's programmes to Dutch at all universities for example), but tailor-made solutions. That is because the institutions are in different regions, with different wishes from the labour market. That also counts for Maastricht University. UM president Rianne Letschert repeatedly emphasises Maastricht's special border location and the university as an economic driving force for the region.


What measures are the universities taking? In any case, major bachelor's programmes will have to be available in Dutch, somewhere in the Netherlands. So this does not necessarily have to be in Maastricht. If there is a Dutch variant in Tilburg or Utrecht, that's fine too. The term ‘major programmes’ is not specifically defined, the UM spokesperson says. In any case, it concerns studies with a considerable number of students, such as economics, psychology and medicine. In addition, universities are also looking at which English-language bachelor's programmes can be fully converted to Dutch. But for that (the universities warn in the press release from university association UNL) time and money are needed. “For instance, some institutions may have to recruit Dutch-speaking staff, or international staff will have to learn the language. A lot has to happen in a more practical sense as well, from translating course material to working with the participation bodies.”


There will also be no new English-language bachelor’s programmes for the time being. However, studies that have already been developed and are now in the ‘assessment’ process will still be ‘admitted’. This applies, for instance, to the Maastricht bachelor's programme Sustainable Bioscience. During the first round, it was rejected; the labour market would not be waiting for these graduates. However, UM is going to try again. Programmes for sectors with shortages will be exempted.

Better Dutch

Another measure: a numerus fixus on English-language studies. This is not possible yet, because legal justification is needed and that depends on the introduction of the bill ‘Internationalisatering in balans’ . The list of measures is even longer: for instance, the preparatory year (at UM, the foundation programme) for (future) students will be discontinued to limit the inflow from abroad. Each university will also sit around the table with regional and national employers to see how they can keep graduates here. Dutch language skills need to be boosted, among both teachers and students. In UM's Ask me Anything session on Tuesday 6 February, UM president Rianne Letschert shared that they want to give foreign students more facilities to learn Dutch. So not only a Social Dutch course, but also, for example, language courses tailored to their own field of study.

Author: Wendy Degens

Photo: Joey Roberts

Categories: News, news_top
Tags: internationalisation,language, dutch, bachelor,universities,unl,influx,bill,dijkgraaf,region,instagram

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