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Brussels, 4 December 2009

Better taught in English? Institutional language strategies in European higher education


Emperor Charles V was quoted as saying “I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my dog.”  Today, he would probably have added “and English to academics”. English-medium tuition in European higher education, i.e. courses that are fully or partially imparted in English in countries where English is the domestic language, is on the rise all over continental Europe. But what are the factors that have shaped and will shape the language policies of European institutions? Is it mainly the race for foreign students? The concept of the internationalisation of higher education might only be part of the answer. Obviously, institutions strive to prepare students for their professional future. But in how far do the linguistic and cultural skills of graduates match labour market needs? And are institutional language policies not bound to clash with EU policies promoting diversity and multilingualism?

This ACA seminar tackled these questions and more in the company of prominent speakers from academia and business.


Thursday 3 December 2009


19:30       Seminar dinner @ Il Pasticcio

Friday 4 December 2009



Registrations and coffee


Welcome and introduction
Chripa Schneller, Policy Officer, ACA


Institutional language strategies: a balancing act between the internationalisation of higher education, national and EU policies, and labour market expectations?
Wolfgang Mackiewicz, President of the Conseil européen pour les langues / European Language Council


English-language programmes in European higher education
Bernd Wächter, Director, ACA


Coffee break


Plenary: How do institutions design and implement their language policies?
Chair: Philippe van Parijs, Professor of Economic and Social Ethics at the Université catholique de Louvain, K.U. Leuven and Harvard University


Rolf Tarrach, Rector of the University of Luxembourg
Frans Zwarts, Rector of the University of Groningen
Bernard Coulie, former Rector of the Université catholique de Louvain 


By way of provisional conclusion:
The linguistic future of European universities
Philippe van Parijs




Plenary: Fit for the labour market? What do employers expect?
Chair: Pat Killingley, British Council, UK


Martin Lammers, Vodafone, The Netherlands
Pasquale Catalfamo, CATALFER srl, Italy
Petra Lewe, Executive Director, SIFE Germany
Christophe De Coster, Deloitte, Coordinator for Campus Recruitment, Belgium


Coffee break


What will shape institutional language policies in the future?
David Coyne, previously European Commission, DG Employment


Wrap-up and good-bye
Chripa Schneller


Wolfgang Mackiewicz

Wolfgang Mackiewicz is director of the Language Centre and Honorary Professor of English Philology at the Freie Universität Berlin (FUB). He is the president of the Conseil Européen pour les Langues / European Language Council (CEL/ELC). He was chair of the SIGMA Scientific Committee on Languages (1994-5), and has coordinated a total of eight EU development and network projects, among them five thematic and dissemination network projects in the area of languages (Socrates-Erasmus Programme; 1996-2007). He is currently coordinator of an LLP/KA2 network for enhancing motivation for language learning. He has been involved in the implementation of Bologna reforms at all levels. Over the past 14 years, he has been advisor to both the European Commission and the Council of Europe in a number of capacities. He chaired the Expert Group on the Humanities in FP7, he is the chair of the Expert Advisory Group FP7 Theme 8 and of the Assessment of University-Based Research Expert Group, and he was of the European Commission’s High Level Group on Multilingualism.

Wolfgang Mackiewicz studied English and German at FUB and at the University of Leeds, and wrote his PhD thesis on Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe”. His research focuses on European language policy and language education policy. He holds three honorary doctorates.

Bernd Wächter

Bernd Wächter is the Director of the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA). In this capacity, which he has held since 1998, he bears overall responsibility for the implementation of all ACA policy. Earlier on (1995 – 1997), he was the Head of the Erasmus Department in the then Socrates and Youth TAO, which implemented the centralised parts of the Erasmus Programme on behalf of the European Commission. Between 1992 and 1995, he headed the German national agency for the Erasmus Programme inside the DAAD, which also had important national information functions for the COMETT, LINGUA and TEMPUS schemes. His experience with internationalisation also relates to the institutional level, through his functions as head of the international office of the Fachhochschule Darmstadt, and as a departmental coordinator of international relations at the Gesamthochschule Kassel. He has also worked for the British Council. Bernd Wächter has published and lectured widely on issues of Europeanisation and internationalisation of higher education. He is the editor of the ACA Papers on International Cooperation in Education.

Philippe van Parijs

Philippe Van Parijs holds doctorates in philosophy (Oxford) and the social sciences (Louvain). He is professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain, where he directs the Hoover Chair of economic and social ethics since its creation in 1991. He is also a Visiting Professor of philosophy at Harvard University since 2004, and a Special Guest Professor at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven since 2006. <//span>

His books include Evolutionary Explanation in the Social Sciences (London, 1981), Qu’est-ce qu’une société juste? (Paris, 1991), Marxism Recycled (Cambridge, 1993), Real Freedom for All (Oxford, 1995), Ethique économique et sociale (Paris, 2000, with C. Arnsperger), and L’Allocation universelle (Paris, 2005, with Y. Vanderborght). He is currently completing a new book on Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World (Oxford University Press).

Rolf Tarrach

Dr. Rolf Tarrach is Rector of the University of Luxemburg and President of the Academic Cooperation Association.  Dr. Tarrach is professor of theoretical physics, and has served in that capacity at the universities of Valencia and Barcelona as well as the University of Saint Petersburg.  Many organizations have taken advantage of his breath of knowledge and his command of languages.  He is a former president of the CSIC (the Spanish Scientific Research Council), and a former member of EURAB, EUROHORCS, ESOF2004 (and 2006, and 2008).  The EU Commission has availed themselves of Dr. Tarrach’s services at various times. He is currently on the EUA Council.

Frans Zwarts

Frans Zwarts is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Groningen and has been Rector Magnificus since 2002. He studied Logic and Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, became a research fellow of the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research in 1973,  and was appointed lecturer at the University of Groningen in 1975. He is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, was academic director of the University of Groningen’s School of Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences and president of the Dutch Dyslexia Steering Committee.

Bernard Coulie

Bernard Coulie is honorary rector of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL, 2004-2009). He holds an MA in Ancient languages and in Oriental languages and a PhD in Oriental Philology and History of the UCL. He is professor of Armenian and Georgian studies at the Oriental Institute of the UCL where he has also taught Greek and Byzantine studies. He is currently also giving a course on European culture. He has recently been awarded the Gold Medal of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Armenia for his involvement in the study of Armenian culture. He has published several books and articles on these various topics, and served as editor of international journals and series.

Pat Killingley

Pat Killingley was appointed Director of Educational Services at the British Council in 2002. She has overall responsibility for higher education and is a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Initiative (PMI) strategy group. She played a key role in developing the new PMI strategy which was launched in April 2006 by the Prime Minister.

Pat previously worked in the areas of employment, education and training and education management. She was at University of Sheffield for 12 years, where she was Director of Staff Development and course director of the North of England Universities’ Leadership Programme. While in higher education, she ran a number of international university programmes and links, working with universities in SE Asia and Africa.

Pat graduated from the University of Hull with an honours degree in Social Studies, subsequently undertaking postgraduate studies at the Universities of Huddersfield, Sheffield Hallam and the University of Sheffield.

Martin Lammers

Martin Lammers is a Senior HR Professional who has helped change and shape Vodafone Netherlands key capabilities to meet the strategic people challenges.
He has directed programs to make the Brand promise to our customers really happen. A leading theme in his career has been creating movement in organizations by means of having hard knowledge of soft issues.

Martin Lammers started his career as assistant professor in Physical Education at Nijenrode School of Business. On Nijenrode he has been participating in several executive programs amongst others for Aegon, KBB and ABN AMRO. As Dean of Campus he was a member of the Board of Nijenrode and responsible for a campus of 600 students. He also worked for Cargill Benelux as Manager Training & Recruitment. He has an extensive experience as a facilitator, trainer and coach. Within Vodafone he has been Head of Learning and Development and Business Partner for Marketing, Customer Management, Shared Services and Network & IT. Currently he is HR Business Partner and the change and people lead for a big international transformation project within Vodafone NL.

Pasquale Catalfamo

Pasquale Catalfamo is a partner and member of the board of Catalfer srl, an Italian company manufacturing chemical products and abrasives for the automotive, marine and wood market. CATALFER is a medium-size company exporting 95% of its product lines to 60 countries world-wide.

He is also a board member and member of the executive committee of CONFAPI Varese, an Italian association of small and medium-size industries acting in foreign markets. Catalfer is a member of the latter. Pasquale Catalfamo heads CONFAPI Varese’s “Foreign Market Servicing Strategy & International Trade Department” and is the Vice-President of the export consortium of CONFAPI Varese, called “INSUBRIA EXPORT”.

Mr. Catalfamo graduated in Economics and Trade, at the University of Messina, Italy and speaks Italian, English, French and Spanish.

Petra Lewe

Petra Lewe worked from 1986 till 2008 with KPMG, one of the leading accountancy and consulting firm worldwide. For over ten years she assisted the HR Director in the field of people business. In the last years she was mainly in charge of Business Development in the western region of Germany. Additionally in the year 2003 she was assigned by KPMG to establish the international student organization Students in Free Enterprise, briefly SIFE, in Germany. Since 2003 she developed SIFE to one of the most successful and sustainable students organization in Germany. Finally in October 2008 she took over the management of the non-profit organization SIFE in Germany. Her goal is it to establish SIFE as a leading source of socially responsible business talent and to bring sustainable value und benefits to students, universities, companies and the community.

David Coyne

David Coyne was at different times the European Commission’s Director for Education (2000-2004); for Education and Training Policy (2005-6) and for the Coordination of the European Social Fund (2007-2009). He has had responsibility for the various European Education and Training programmes, some of which (long ago…) he helped to write and negotiate, and for agreeing wider education, training and employment programmes financed through the European Social Fund with a number of Member States. He entered the Commission in 1977.

Chripa Schneller

Chripa Schneller is Policy Officer at the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA). Before joining the ACA Secretariat in early 2007, she worked in the private sector in Germany, Spain and India. The responsibilities of her present position at ACA cover all aspects of the association’s policies, projects and events. She also represents ACA at various international meetings. Chripa, who is a French-German citizen of Indian descent, is the main author of the ACA Handbook of International Associations in Higher Education (2009) and has been in charge of several projects in the field of promotion of European higher education, among them a pilot project for the set-up of “Study in Europe Promotion Networks” world-wide, the “Database on Education Exchange Programmes (DEEP, by ASEF) and, most recently, “”, a European mobility grants portal.


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