UT Language Policy: What does it mean for you?

| Michaela Nesvarova

The University of Twente has formed an official Language Policy, which states that at the UT ‘English is the primary formal language of communication from 2018 onwards’. This means there are a few changes on the horizon. What can you expect?

Students

As an enrolled UT student, you might soon receive some ‘extra language support’. Due to complaints about students’ insufficient level of English in some programmes, the UT wants to ‘invest in actively developing their academic communicative skills through training in the first year’. It is not yet clear how this will be carried out. Programmes are required to investigate what exactly students need and want in terms of language training and assessment. This counts for both English and Dutch, because the university wishes to support those students who want to develop their Dutch language skills.

If you are a student applying to a UT programme, you don’t have to worry about any new rules. Dutch students are (still) automatically assumed to have a good command of English, while foreign students (still) need to provide proof of their level of English.

Teachers

The minimum language level to teach in English remains C1, but from now on all staff teaching in English must have proof of the sufficient level. If you don’t have it yet, get it. Teachers who score below the minimum level, will not be allowed to teach (in English). To ensure a continuously high level of English, language evaluation will now be part of the annual appraisal cycle (FJUT). If you need to work on your English, the UT plans to help you by offering tailored English training: English as a Medium of Instruction.

If you are applying for an academic teaching position here, you should know that the UT will include language criterion in recruitment and wants to include English qualification into UTQ (University Teaching Qualification).  

Your English is fine, but you worry about your Dutch skills? No need. Current policy does not provide a required minimum level of Dutch. 

PhD candidates

Because the working process of PhD programmes is already primarily in English, no changes await those of you who are already conducting their PhD research at the UT. However, if you’d like to apply for a PhD position, keep in mind that the entire application procedure including interviews must be done in English, even for Dutch applicants who should (also) show proof of sufficient language level.

Support staff

All UT staff members need to have a good command of English. Language proficiency requirement for support staff is between B1 and C1, depending on the job position. This needs to be made clear during recruitment of new employees and all job candidates are required to do part of the job interview in English. Also – and this counts for everyone – language performance will become part of the annual FJUT. It’s up to your supervisor to assess your language skills.


You might still have the following questions:

If English is the official language at the UT, do I need to speak English all the time?

No. Although everyone at the UT campus must be able to communicate in English, you are not required to abandon Dutch altogether. According to the new policy, it all depends on the context and people involved in the communication: ‘The principle of inclusion applies here. Language choice is left to the discretion of the people present. This can e.g. be Dutch or English. When communicating with non-Dutch speaking colleagues present, communication should be in English.’  

Will all written documents be only in English?

No, many things will remain bilingual. All legally binding documents, letters and regulations will be available in English and Dutch. External corporate communication, such as the website, social media or brochures will still be bilingual.

But some things will indeed be only in English. All signage on the campus and information on LED walls will be in English (unless Dutch is required by law). All internal corporate communication will now be only in English, including corporate emails, newsletters and the employee portal.  

Will all events be held in English?

Not really. Yes, all UT corporate (academic) events will be held in English, but cultural activities (i.e. concerts, performances, evening lectures etc.) will continue to be in Dutch and/or English. The policy states that ‘for the time being, we will not formulate norms for this area’ (meaning culture). The Executive Board does, however, encourage all parties that organize or contribute to university culture to bring their activities in line with the UT Language Policy.