Legal action threatened over Netherlands’ English-medium teaching

Lobby group says that law requiring classes to be taught in Dutch must be enforced

June 6, 2017
Dutch cheese market

A lobby group is threatening legal action over the growth of courses taught in English in Dutch universities.

The number of English-medium courses at higher education institutions in the Netherlands has expanded significantly in recent years, with one newspaper reporting last year that 60 per cent of undergraduate courses and 70 per cent of master’s programmes at research-intensive universities were now taught in English.

But Dutch law says that education and examinations should be given in Dutch unless there is a good reason not to.

The Beter Onderwijs Nederland organisation, which works to raise educational standards, has said that it will take the government to court over the issue unless it introduces tougher rules insisting that Dutch be used in higher education.

BON’s chairman, Ad Verbrugge, told Dutch News that many lecturers did not speak English well enough to give good lessons, and that local students were suffering as a result.

“They are chucking out Dutch to attract more foreign students,” he said.

In a press release published in Dutch, BON said that numerous higher education institutions flout the law.

“The systematic violation of the law has also been ongoing for many years, largely and to a very serious extent, something that has also been repeatedly raised by critics,” it added.

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