Foresight study on 'Language policy in Dutch higher education'

The Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science has asked the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences to conduct a foresight study on language policy in Dutch higher education. The key question is: on what basis should a Dutch research university or university of applied sciences choose Dutch or English as the language of instruction for a particular programme of study?

Recent years have witnessed a resurgence of the debate about the language of instruction in Dutch higher education. The foresight study will clarify the arguments that are involved in this debate. The committee tasked with carrying out the study will collect data, conduct interviews and organise meetings. The final report will give institutions of higher education guidelines for making informed choices.

The foresight study will cover at least the following: the educational interests of the students, policy-related aspects at institutions of higher education, and the cultural and societal interests served by a scrupulous language policy.

It will look at both academic and higher professional education and at both Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes. The committee will also compare the Netherlands with a number of other countries in this regard.


  • survey the arguments put forward in the debate, the various interests involved, the risks associated with certain choices, and the necessary guarantees;
  • based on these findings, provide specific guidelines that will help institutions of higher education make informed choices for the various disciplines and programmes.

The committee is expected to enter into a wide-ranging discussion with professionals in the field in order to generate sufficient support.


The final report published 11 July 2017.