Policy summary: Language policy at Leiden University

Two documents:

  • Leiden University Code of Conduct on Language of Instruction (2013), 1.5 pages, available in English and Dutch
  • Guideline on Language Policy (2017), 4 pages, available in English and Dutch

The Code of Conduct on Language of Instruction consists of 6 articles as well as explanatory notes (which comprises the text of Art. 7.2 WHW). It is fairly standard, comparable to the codes of conduct of other universities. Articles 3 and 4 address the bachelor’s and master’s programmes, respectively. For bachelor’s programmes, the language of instruction is basically ‘Dutch, unless’ (with a wide range of exceptions!). At master’s level the language of instruction is ‘English or another language’ (I’ll be interested to look deeper into this to see what other languages are used – Dutch, something else?).

Article 6 has extremely cursory information on safeguarding the level of instruction in English: ‘Within each faculty, the Faculty Board is responsible for ensuring an adequate language level for all staff members appointed to teach … in another language than Dutch’. No information is provided on ensuring students’ language level is up to scratch.

The Guideline on Language Policy covers six areas within the language policy of the institution:

  • language of instruction: this points readers to the above Code of Conduct
  • language proficiency of lecturers: the required language level for staff teaching in Dutch and English and options for improving
  • language proficiency of other staff: international lecturers expected to reach B1 in Dutch within two years
  • language used in recruiting new employees: job vacancies will specify the required language competencies of staff to be appointed (C1 English for staff who teach in English, B1 Dutch within two years for non-Dutch staff)
  • language used in communication: website communication is to be bilingual (with exceptions depending on target group of the info), programme information is to be provided in the language of instruction of the programme
  • language used in university administration: Dutch is the main language here, although formal agreements like regulations need to be available in both Dutch and English.
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