A recent survey showed that Maastricht University is leading the way. Of 19 bachelor’s courses on offer, seven were available in English, while all but one of the master’s programmes – the exception was Dutch Law – were in English.
At Groningen University, meanwhile, international students – whose native language may not be English but who generally communicate with each other, and with their Dutch hosts, through English – now account for ten percent of the student population.
“It’s all part of globalization”, says Professor Gerry Wakker, Dean of Educational Affairs at Groningen.
Increasingly, too, papers for peer-reviewed academic journals must be written in English, and that’s showing up the significant gulf between the excellent quality of spoken English among Dutch students – and the often “iffy” quality of their prose, even allowing for subject-specific jargon.
There are certain ironies though. My favourite is the idea of German students studying philosophy in the Netherlands being asked to read Kant in English – because their master’s course is through English. Language apart, is that sensible?