The Faculty of Science is making haste with the implementation of English-language Bachelor's programmes. All programmes will start introducing English-taught education in the upcoming academic year. Three years from now, all scientific Bachelor's programmes must be taught in English.
This objective has been included in the strategic plan developed by the Faculty of Science, which states that all Bachelor’s programmes must be offered in English by 2020. That’s three years from now. The primary motivation for the accelerated implementation of English-language Bachelor’s programmes is the large percentage of non-Dutch academic staff members: nearly half come from abroad. This sets the Faculty of Science apart from other faculties, such as Social Sciences and Arts.
At the moment, the faculty cannot put its many non-Dutch staff members to use in classrooms, which is unfortunate. ‘An important pillar of our faculty is the nexus between teaching and research’, explains Dean Lutgarde Buydens. ‘But at the moment, we can’t deploy a large percentage of our researchers. This means our students – who are, in a manner of speaking, our junior researchers – don’t have contact with half our academic staff.’
Buydens sees the expected increase in international students as an added benefit, but adds: ‘That’s not our primary goal.’
‘We don’t have concrete guidelines’
The coming academic year, a pilot will be launched in all science programmes. ‘We’re starting by introducing several English-language courses to give students and staff the chance to get used to the new situation.’ The individual programmes have the freedom to decide which courses to offer in English this September. ‘We don’t have concrete guidelines. The pilot is intended as a learning experience.’
Some programmes are more enthusiastic than others. The Computing Science department has already translated its study association’s website into English, but employees from the Mathematics department are more sceptical about the change. They are worried it will undermine the quality of education. The faculty board hopes the changes within these programmes will eventually convince the Mathematics department of its merits.
At least one course in the English-taught Bachelor’s programme will continue to be offered in Dutch: writing skills. ‘It’s important that students learn how to write proper Dutch texts’, says Buydens.
The departments of Molecular Life Sciences and Chemistry started implementing English-language Bachelor’s education last year.