Opponents are afraid that English education leads to loss of quality. Photo: Pixabay

NVAO will test the choice for education in English

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Why is this degree being taught in English? Starting in February, the inspectors of higher education will ask this question in the six-yearly accreditation of educational programmes.

Read in Dutch

The programmes must explain to the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO) how the chosen teaching language contributes to the quality of the programmes. This is what the Ministry of Education writes. The language level of teachers is also assessed

Profit or international connections?
Education taught in English has its supporters and opponents. Opponents are afraid that programmes are only taught in English for making profit: they simply want to recruit as many foreign students as possible, is the reproach. The quality of education would suffer.

Proponents believe that education which is taught in English prepares students for the international context in which they will work later. They will have to deal with people from all kinds of countries and cultures, so it's good to get used to it in their degree. And those foreign students are often very motivated, otherwise they would not come here.

Revoke accreditation
Because you can hardly speak in generalisations, it remains abstract. Even the fierce opponents at Beter Onderwijs Nederland (Better Education Netherlands), who filed a lawsuit against this increased use of English in education, acknowledge that some degrees and programmes can of course be taught in English.

So, the political means was obvious: let the programmes explain it themselves. If the reasoning is inadequate, the programme has two options, either to better justify the choice of language or to switch to Dutch again. “In the most extreme case, NVAO can withdraw the accreditation,” the Ministry writes.

Whether it reassures the opponents will depend on whether the inspection is rigorous enough for their taste, and if it will indeed force programmes to reverse their choice of language.

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