The WUR Council calls on the executive board to offer free language lessons to international staff members. A survey conducted by Young WUR among seventy foreign WUR-employees shows that two-thirds of the respondents feel disadvantaged in their work because they don’t speak Dutch. Although 70 per cent have already done a Dutch language course, 90 per cent would welcome a new course to further improve their command of the Dutch language.
The Dutch language courses are currently not free of charge. Nonetheless, the international employees seldomly foot the bill. If the department agrees to the course, the employer pays In’to Languages, who offers the courses. Whether the course is fully paid depends on the chair group.
WUR Council aims to lower that threshold. The foreign researchers are often forced to travel, as the advanced courses are not offered in Wageningen. Half the international employees followed a beginner’s course and would like to do the follow-up course but have insufficient time to do so.
The representative council feels that language courses contribute to better integration of international employees within WUR and the Netherlands, making WUR a more desirable employer.
The Human Resources department agrees with the WUR Council. Martijn Scheen, Corporate Director Human Resources: ‘We acknowledge the need for free language courses. The plan has been included in the project “Language policy updated”. It is currently possible for employees and their supervisors to agree to free language lessons, even for the employees’ partner. We aim to make this the standard in the future so that all international employees can benefit from this provision.’