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BON loses Dutch EMI lawsuit against HEIs

A Dutch association that had launched a lawsuit against two universities over “too many” courses taught in English has seen its claims rejected in court.

Drienerlo Tower, an artwork by Wim T. Schippers on Twente University campus. Photo: W.J. Maaskant/Wikimedia Commons

Dutch minister of education encouraged universities to “take responsibility” for internationalisation

The University of Maastricht and the University of Twente had been taken to court by association Better Education Netherlands contesting their policy to teach some of their courses in English earlier this year.

BON had been campaigning against the predominance of English in Dutch higher education and alleged that the two universities’ motivation to teach their courses in English was merely financial and not dictated by the specific nature of the course taught, as the law requires.

“BON’s statement that this was motivated by finance was…sufficiently contradicted by the University”

But the judge found that the two universities had “sufficiently substantiated” that their language policy decision complied with the law, Twente University Spokesperson Bertyl Lankhaar told The PIE News.

“We are satisfied with the decision of the judge to reject the claims of BON,” she said.

“The reasons underlying our decision to offer the Psychology bachelor program in English can be traced back to the criteria set out in article 7.2 sub c of the WHW, namely the specific nature, organisation and quality of the education and the national origin of students.”

“BON’s statement that this choice was mainly motivated by financial motives was, according to the judge, sufficiently contradicted by the University of Twente.”

Lankhaar added that the university will continue to remain actively involved in the debate around higher education internationalisation and to carefully assess the language policy in its educational programs.

Although its claims have been rejected, BON was positive about the general outcome of the ruling. In their view, it will increase pressure on the Education Inspectorate to scrutinise universities’ English language policies, it said in a statement.

Last month, the Dutch minister of education, culture and science presented a letter to parliament to outline her position on higher education internationalisation. She also urged universities to “take responsibility” for their internationalisation policy and ensure higher education remains accessible to Dutch students.

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