Despite extensive negative national media coverage of the increasing use of English at Dutch universities, a survey found that Groningen students are primarily fine with the trend.
The survey, which was carried out by the Groningen Student Union, surveyed nearly 200 students from both the University of Groningen and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. The survey only spoke with seven instructors: five from the RUG and two from the Hanze.
“We decided to look into anglicization because of how much negative coverage there has been about it in the media”, Jolien Bruinewoud told the Dagblad van het Noorden. “We were curious to hear from the students themselves how they felt about it.”
That media coverage includes arguments that English-taught courses stand in the way of students learning due to it being their second language and instructors not feeling comfortable enough speaking it. Another argument is that English-taught courses but native English speakers at an advantage over Dutch students, despite the fact that the vast majority of foreign students also speak English as a second language.
The first part of the survey spoke with 186 students who were not native English speakers. In general, students were more positive about anglicization if they felt it did not come at the expense of them learning. The students also reported being satisfied with the language skills of their instructors. One point that students pointed out for improvement was achieving greater integration of foreign students at the academic institutions, not just through teaching in English but through deliberately integrating multicultural references into lectures.
The RUG instructors who were surveyed said they felt they had adequate institutional support when it came to English courses, but Hanze instructors did not share that sentiment. The findings showed that students and lecturers agree that programmes that are primarily focused on the Dutch labour market should not be required to offer courses in English, but called for more transparency and communication about institutional language policies.
Around 20 percent of bachelor programmes and 70 percent of master’s degree programmes at Dutch research universities were taught in English as of 2017. Universities of applied sciences are increasingly teaching in English, but only around 8 percent of HBO programmes are currently English-language.