Wetenschap - 1 januari 1970

Problems with English not confined to Wageningen

Problems with English not confined to Wageningen

Problems with English not confined to Wageningen


Wageningen is not alone in the problems it experiences in offering an
increasing number of programmes in English. The Netherlands is the
frontrunner of all European countries offering higher education programmes
in English.

Holland also experiences the most problems that go with providing education
in a language other than the native tongue. This is the picture that
emerged from a study commissioned by the Brussels based Academic
Cooperation Association (ACA) that promotes cooperation in European higher
education.

During the academic year 2001 – 2002 the Netherlands had the most English
language programmes in Europe, and in terms of the number of students
enrolled it was third on the list. In Finland the situation is similar, and
it is not surprising that countries with a relatively small population
speaking the native language score high in the English language stakes. It
is often the only way to gain an edge over larger language groups. There
are only 22 million Dutch speakers, compared with about four times as many
German speakers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

One of the aims of ACA is to encourage the internationalisation of higher
education, and with its wide range of courses in English the Netherlands is
a big contributor. However, the lack of knowledge and mastery of English
still presents problems. Of the seventeen institutes offering one or more
English language programmes, nine (53%) reported considerable problems with
the level of English of students, by far the highest amount of all
countries. Even the 38 percent in Finland reporting problems is too high
for the researchers.

The English of Dutch lecturers in general also leaves much to be desired –
here also it seems that Wageningen is no exception. The Netherlands is at
the top of the list again, with more than 25 percent of the institutes
reporting problems. The ministers of education in the two previous cabinets
introduced cuts in higher education which prompted universities to attract
students from outside the country to come to the Netherlands. The results
of the ACA study indicate that the Dutch policy of internationalisation has
so far resulted in quantity if not quality.

HOP, Sara van Otterloo

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