‘A high level of English requires time and investment’

| Michaela Nesvarova

In the most recent Keuzegids, the University of Twente got the score of only 6.3 on its English education. ‘It would be ridiculous to assume that everyone can switch to another language without any help,’ says Katja Hunfeld, the Head of the TCP Language center, in regards to the low number.

The result of 6.3 places the UT in the bottom two universities in the Netherlands if it comes to the level of English and internationalization. Is this surprising for you?

Hunfeld: ‘I don’t know how the score was calculated, so it is hard to say. However, this is the first time that language was evaluated and that is a good thing in itself. It means language is on the map.’ 

Why do you think the score wasn’t higher?

‘We are in the process of transition right now. I believe everyone assumed that by proclaiming we are now an English speaking university, everyone would be simply able to switch, but that is not the case. It takes time and investment – and I don’t mean only financial. It would be ridiculous to assume that everyone can switch to another language without any help. And that is what the TCP Language center is here to provide – to both students and teachers alike. In my experience, both groups often accuse each other of the problem. Students say the teachers need to work on their English, teachers say the students need to work on their English.’ 


The ‘Keuzegids Universiteiten’ is an annual publication that aims to help prospective bachelor students with their study choice. Dutch universities are scored based on student assessments from the National Student Survey, the opinions of experts and statistical figures. Overall, the UT did well this year. It was ranked third out of all Dutch universities, with a score of 67 points (out of 100). Four out of twenty UT bachelor’s programmes were given the seal of ‘Top rated programme’.

What can the university do to improve the situation?

‘It is one thing to have an overall high level of English and another thing to actually teach in English. That is a different skill and we can help with that. We facilitate courses focused specifically on English for teaching.’

Do many teachers take these courses?

‘No, not a large number. We reach out to faculties, but no language courses are mandatory. However, all UT teachers have to pass a class assessment done by one of our English teachers. To pass, they need English proficiency at the level C1, which is rather high. Only very small number of local teachers don’t pass this assessment, which is always done in a classroom, in a teaching scenario. This means that their level of English is already quite high.’

Still, the score in the Keuzegids was low, so is there something the UT can do to increase it in the future?

‘To my knowledge, the HR department would like to only hire new teachers with the English level of C1, so there is no need to further train them in that regard. I would also like to discuss if we could include ‘BKE’ (Basiskwalificatie Taalvaardigheid Engels - Basic qualification of English language proficiency for teachers) as a mandatory part of our teachers’ qualification. It is good that the topic of language is now on the map and people are aware of it. We would be happy if the university comes to us for advice, we are always ready to help. In the end, it just needs time and attention.’ 

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