University Council: Dutch or English?

Humanities is to introduce facilities for international members of the faculty councils. "Are we a Dutch university or are we an international one?" Waldemar Wolters of the International Student Party demanded of the council meeting.

ISP has been a zealous advocate of English for some time. Leiden University’s administrative language is Dutch and the meetings of the University Council and the various faculty councils are also held in Dutch.

However, if ISP has anything to say, there will be an international student in the council of Humanities after the next university elections. Accordingly, the faculty board issued a memorandum in late April: the university’s international character, the importance of English as its academic working language and the growing number of international students who only remain in the Netherlands for a short time are all arguments for speaking English. "Those people choose to study at a university as an international student", Daniël Amesz of BeP claimed.

On the other hand, there is the university’s language policy to consider and the fact that documents from the Ministry of Education and VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands) are written in Dutch. Moreover, a Dutch university, especially a Humanities faculty, should also "be a protector of the Dutch language", according to the memorandum.

BeP and CsL asserted that there is the risk that the quality of discussions and documents will be impaired if people are not fluent enough in administrative English and that Dutch members will drop out if they are forced to speak English at meetings, BeP and CSL asserted.

"I propose that we follow the university policy, but introduce facilities for international students", Dean Mark Rutgers declared. The memorandum suggests, among other things, that, if possible, summaries in English should be added to documents and, in exceptional cases, that English is spoken at the meetings.

Mathijs Kuppen of ISP contributed yet another solution: "Perhaps we can call in some assistance, like an interpreter." "I’m not introducing any breaks for an interpreter", the Dean answered decidedly, however, "Because that would mean we’d be here for about six hours."

Marleen van Wesel

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