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Dutch move to halt spread of English in universities

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By Agence France-Presse

Dutch education officials said Monday they aim to rein in the spread of courses taught in English in the country’s universities and slow the flood of foreign students.

The move comes amid a growing outcry at the infiltration of English language courses in Dutch higher education institutions, with many warning that Dutch students are being disadvantaged and the language is under threat.

Even if “the internationalisation of higher education brings added value… there must always be a place for Dutch students” at the country’s 14 universities, the education ministry insisted.

The report comes after the largest lecturers’ union, known as BON, warned of the looming “linguicide” of the Dutch language if the trend continues.

Even though about 65 percent of bachelor’s degrees are taught in Dutch, only about 15 percent of master’s degrees are. And almost a quarter of students obtaining a master’s are foreigners.

Britain’s exit from the European Union next year has only accelerated the phenomenon, with international students flocking to the Netherlands drawn by the large number of English-taught degree courses.

“The clauses in the law pertaining to the choice of language in higher and vocational education must be revised,” the ministry said.

Greater accent must be placed on “accessibility to education for Dutch students”.

BON has launched a lawsuit accusing Twente University and the University of Maastricht of killing the Dutch language through the “Anglicisation” of courses as they both offer two master’s degree courses in psychology exclusively in English.

They termed the offers by the two universities as an “impoverishment” and a “dangerous abandonment” of the Dutch language.

But Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven also cautioned against becoming too inward-looking.

“I represent an open Dutch society in which we dare to look beyond the borders,” she said, quoted in the statement.

“We must not let ourselves be scared by stories in which internationalisation is something negative which is swamping us,” she added.