New offensive against education in English

Universities should revert to teaching in Dutch, says Beter Onderwijs Nederland (Better Education the Netherlands – BON).
Photo Shutterstock

Beter Onderwijs Nederlands launches a new offensive with nineteen open letters directed at the Minister, executive boards and supervisory boards.

‘Yes, this is the kickoff for a new campaign’, philosopher and BON-chain Ad Verbrugge states. His association has been bitterly fighting against the anglicisation of higher education for many years. BON claims that education in English has many negative effects. Dutch topics are not sufficiently highlighted in English-spoken programmes, for example. According to BON, this results in an ‘impoverishment of content and an increased distance between universities and the rest of society.’  


The protest group cites the law that states that higher education should promote students’ ability to express themselves in Dutch. A different article states that education and exams should be in Dutch, save for exceptions. BON claims that universities have used these legal exceptions to steadily increase the number of English-spoken programmes in an effort to recruit more international students.

Let’s start by ensuring that every bachelor programme offers at least sixty per cent of its courses in Dutch

Ad Verbrugge, Beter Onderwijs Nederland chair

In 2019, the Education Inspectorate established that programmes failed to adhere to the law. They were not all able to explain why their courses needed to be English-spoken. However, this conclusion had no consequences. ‘The process happily continues’, Verbrugge says sneeringly. He sees the solution as simple: upholding the current law. ‘Let’s start by ensuring that every bachelor programme offers at least sixty per cent of its courses in Dutch.’

International students

The previous Minister, Ingrid van Engelshoven, hauled a legislative proposal through the House of Representatives that aimed to fortify the position of higher education and make the influx of international students more manageable. The bill, however, did not make it past the senate after the cabinet fell. Minister Dijkgraaf has since rescinded the proposal and is now working on his own draft. BON, however, feels he is not moving fast enough.

BON remained quiet for a while. Verbrugge: ‘We read the inspectorate’s report and hoped it would result in measures being taken. That has not happened. Meanwhile, the covid crisis popped up and new elections were held. We placed our hope in Minister Dijkgraaf, but he is not moving. Thus, we want to draw attention to the matter once again. From a legal perspective, the anglicisation of education is highly dubious, if not illegal.’

Also read:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to write a comment.