While everyone is talking about internationalization and even debating to switch the university council into English, State Secretary of Edcuation, Culture and Science Halbe Zijlstra wants to decrease the use of English in higher education.

A heated debate took place in Parliament last week, about why so many Dutch choose to enroll in English programs. The Christian Democrats and the Party for Freedom claim that internationalization has gone too far, diminishing the language skills of Dutch students. Meanwhile, D66 and VVD say that English education is an absolute necessity to compete in the international labor market and the scientific community.

Dutch study for Dutch labor market

Zijlstra called for a ‘sanity check’, to make sure that Dutch students who aspire to become part of the Dutch labor market study in Dutch. Koen Glotzbach, a Dutch student, agrees: “Why put up with teachers who don’t speak English fluently but still try to? Why stimulate confusion in communication and slow the learning process down when you can simply use your mother tongue? English fluency can also be reached in a separate course”.

Quality control

Adri Meijdam, executive director of IBA, says that the fears of poor English quality are unfounded, because RSM actively monitors the English of both its students and teachers. While the RSM provides courses targeting the Dutch audience, the Master programmes are in run in English for simple reasons: “Scientific community communicates in English and an English degree enhances the students’ potential on the international labor market”.

Still internationally oriented

With Zijlstra possibly leaving his secretary position when the new government will be formed, we probably won’t see a reversal of internationalization and the push for more English. Besides, it is not a secret that a large proportion of students enrolled in international programs like IBEB or IBA are in fact Dutch. Anne van der Pijl, a Dutch student in IBcOM, says that she chose to study in English because even if she stays to work in the Netherlands, chances are that the company is internationally oriented. “If the person studies in English, then he probably already knows that he wants to work in an international environment”. MD/HOP