As of 1 September 2018 the university will start five English-language bachelor programmes. On 14 June, the Student Staff Council agreed to the executive board’s proposal on this.
The approval was not an enthusiastic one. Eight council members voted for the implementation of the English-language programmes and six were opposed. The council had previously rejected implementing English-language bachelor programmes unless the board would agree to a list of thirteen conditions. In their reply, the board said that it would agree to nine of the thirteen conditions; the remaining four were discussed in council meetings.
The council and the board differ in their opinion of the level of English of the lecturers at WUR. The council thinks that this level is lower than the board does. They said that a major study is needed, given the fact that previous reports indicated that the English of 35 percent of the lecturers in Wageningen was below par. The council also wants a more mandatory policy to improve the language skills of students. The council feels that the language test held at the beginning of a study programme is not sufficient, and they want more stimulation in the form of English courses.
The council also deliberated on the question of whether the approval of five English-language bachelor programmes now foreshadows complete English-language education in Wageningen. This is why the council wanted the English-language bachelor programmes to be evaluated after two years before deciding again on continuing the programmes. They have now accepted the board’s proposal to hold an evaluation after three years with the restriction that other bachelor programmes in Wageningen could be given in English only after the Student Staff Council has approved.
The council agreed under the above conditions, but not wholeheartedly. A minority is opposed to English-language education for a number of reasons. Some are concerned that the quality of education will be hampered by the poor level of English, others feel that WUR is Dutch and should continue to teach in Dutch. But the majority agreed that English-language education suits an institution that wants to solve global issues in an international classroom.
After the previous rejection, the executive board sent a letter to the Student Staff Council to assure them that the introduction and consequences of the English-language bachelor programmes would be carefully monitored. Reports on the number of registrations for the five English-language programmes will be made monthly so that these programmes can quickly choose to restrict the number of students if necessary. The board also wants to quickly provide insight into the quality of the education of these five programmes via the subject evaluations and their study feasibility via the exam results.
The board also promised extra support for the Education Office for the five programmes when making the transition to English. The board had already taken measures related to the other conditions, such as stimulating language courses, making mandatory the education qualifications for international programmes and providing enough accommodation for foreign bachelor students.