Dutch universities can teach in English, says court ruling 

The universities of Maastricht and Twente can offer bachelor’s degrees in psychology in English, according to a court ruling on Friday.

A case had been brought by the lobby group Beter Onderwijs Nederland, claiming that teaching these degrees in English broke the higher education and research laws.

But the court judgement said that this is not the case.

The group had also argued that ‘Anglicising’ Dutch education and making English the first language of universities damaged students, and reduced the teaching quality. It claimed Dutch students would then be at a disadvantage as they would be competing with increasing numbers of foreign applications.

Not the place

But the court said that it was not its place to take a view on the truth of these claims, but only to rule on whether the two universities were complying with the law.

This says, according the judgement, that ‘education and exams should in principle be conducted in Dutch’ but that this is not obligatory.

It found that the psychology degrees of both universities met the required educational standards and noted that they chose to teach in English due to the international nature of the subject.

Space for all

However, education inspectors have started a national investigation into whether the higher education laws are being properly applied.

According to the NOS broadcaster, 23% of bachelor’s and 74% of master’s degrees are taught wholly in English, and this year there were 75,000 international students.

Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said last month in a debate over this issue, though, that ‘there is always space in higher education for every Dutch student’.

Reader challenge: spot the spelling mistake in the NOS English test

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