Between Babel and Anglo-Saxon Imperialism?
English-Taught Programmes and Language Policy in European Higher Education

Brussels, 30 September 2005


English is holding a fairly uncontested position as the most widely used language in international higher education and academic publishing, as well as the media and trade. In line with this trend and in response to an increasingly international and competitive environment, a growing number of universities are now offering programmes taught in English, in countries where English is not the official language. This seems to be in contrast with EU policies promoting diversity and multilingualism, and it is perceived by many European stakeholders as a simple means for universities to generate more income.

This seminar offered a forum for this debate. It explored and questioned the present and future role of English in higher education in the context of European language policies. Last but not least, it had a look at the practical implications of a higher education which is partly or fully imparted in English.

Would higher education imparted in English limit one’s ability to express oneself and thus put content on a secondary level? Or are domestic students better off being taught in English, so as to be prepared for further study or work abroad? What are the best practices to be adopted by universities? These and many more questions were debated by some of the most prominent experts in multilingual education, amongst which ACA was proud to count Philippe van Parijs (Université Catholique de Louvain), Luca Tomasi (European Commission),  Bob Wilkinson (University of Maastricht), Hilde de Ridder- Symoens (University of Gent), Claus Gnutzmann (Technische Universität Braunschweig). The “crew” was completed by ACA Director Bernd Wächter.

7th in the series “European Policy Seminars” of the Academic Cooperation Association