English language use ‘most significant internationalisation trend for HE’

The use of English as the language of instruction is a “galloping phenomenon” across the world, according to a report.

April 30, 2014

According to the interim findings of a report by the British Council and University of Oxford’s department of education, English is increasingly becoming the lingua franca for education institutions across the word – from primary schools to universities.

University administrators tend to regard English as a Medium of Instruction - or EMI, as a facilitator to attracting financially lucrative international students and as a way to improve their institution’s position in global university rankings, the report says. Lecturers, meanwhile, are more idealistic, saying it could improve the exchange of ideas and promote better relations between countries.

Although institutions believe they can improve both financially and academically as a result of EMI, the report also finds that examinations and assessment are a “problematic area”.

“Lectures were sometimes in English while exams were in [the mother tongue] due to university policy, student pressure or the law,” the report says, adding: “Do teachers have a sufficiently high level of English to write and mark exams? What is being assessed: the English or the subject content?”

There was also concern about the impact of teaching in English on the home language and culture, and fears that it could foster inequality between those students who could speak English, who are often from wealthier backgrounds, and those who could not.

“We see the move to using English as the lingua franca of higher education globally as the most significant current trend in internationalising higher education,” said Anna Searle, the British Council’s director of English language.

Ernesto Macaro, director of the department of education at Oxford, added: “More and more institutions across the world are using English to teach academic subjects, spurred on by a desire to internationalise their offer and their academic profile.”

EMI: A Galloping Global Phenomenon: Phase 1 was set to be debated during Going Global, the British Council’s annual conference for leaders of international education, which runs from 29 April to 1 May in Miami.

chris.parr@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

PhD Scholar in Medicine

University Of Queensland

Manager, Research Systems and Performance

Auckland University Of Technology

Lecturer in Aboriginal Allied Health

University Of South Australia

Lecturer, School of Nursing & Midwifery

Western Sydney University

College General Manager, SHE

La Trobe University
See all jobs

Most Commented

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham