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University of Twente assesses the introduction of bilingual bachelor's programmes

University of Twente intends to offer bilingual bachelor's programmes, enabling students to choose between taking a Dutch- or English-language track. The intentions follow the national discussion on the internationalisation of higher education, which calls for attention to educational accessibility and maintaining a healthy balance between Dutch and international students.

Internationalisation in Balance Act

Minister Dijkgraaf of Education, Culture and Science is currently preparing the Internationalisation in Balance Act. This law focuses on undergraduate education and should "ensure a balance between advantages and disadvantages of internationalisation in higher education." The draft law is currently under review by the Council of State, and it will become clear in approximately a month what the final version will contain. The law will subsequently go to the House of Representatives for decision-making.

In anticipation of this law, Dutch universities are taking the initiative to develop their own proposals on how they want to deal with internationalisation. UT intends to do this by investigating the introduction of Dutch-language tracks in the existing bachelor's programmes, thus removing barriers for students who would like to study in Dutch. This will give them the opportunity to study in the language of their choice.

Bilingual bachelor's programmes

In the version currently under investigation, students following a Dutch- and English-language track are part of the same cohort. This way, we enable an international classroom by encouraging students to engage with a diverse group of students.

In the English-language track, students are offered the entire educational programme in English. In the Dutch-language track, they can do a substantial part of the exams and (individual) assignments in Dutch. This is estimated to apply to at least two-thirds of the credits to be obtained (ECTS). We will deal with group assignments and projects pragmatically. Material is also offered in Dutch where possible and students can get Dutch-language support if needed.

In a Dutch-language track, part of the teaching will be in English, which is currently also the case in Dutch-language programmes. This is necessary not only from a practical point of view, considering the availability of lecturers and academic literature, but also in order to prepare students adequately for a continuation in the mostly English-language taught master's programmes.

The bachelor's programmes that are currently offered in Dutch will remain unchanged for now, and will not have an English-language track.


Final decision-making on introducing bilingual bachelor's programmes has yet to take place. We find it important to do this jointly for all programmes. By doing so, we work towards a clear and uniform approach and do justice to the societal signals regarding more attention to accessibility and Dutch language skills within higher education.

We are currently investigating for which programmes it is feasible and efficacious to offer a track in Dutch and English. In the course of 2024, we want to have clarity on a final decision. The Internationalisation in Balance Act, which will soon be debated in Dutch Parliament, will play a role in the further elaboration.

If programmes choose to introduce a Dutch track within an existing programme, it will be introduced possibly with effect from the academic year 2026-2027.

Consequences for current students and staff

Anyone who has started a bachelor’s programme and anyone starting a bachelor's programme at UT in the 2024-2025 or 2025-2026 academic year will be able to follow the programme in the language in which they started their studies for the entire duration of their studies. Students will, therefore, not face mid-term changes.

International staff will continue to be able to teach at UT, and we will continue to offer the English tracks we currently have. We find it very important at UT that our students have the opportunity to learn and obtain knowledge through interaction with people from all over the world. Our international colleagues also need to be able to deliver UT education programmes while continuing to conduct research and work on innovation. We will continue to invest in the Dutch language abilities of our staff as we already do to enable international colleagues to participate fully in life on the campus and its surroundings.

International students and staff will remain welcome

We consider it important to emphasise that international students and staff will continue to be welcome at the university as they are a valuable and essential part of our academic community. Furthermore, the influx of global talent is of great importance for the labour market: there is a great need for highly qualified personnel, both in the region and in the sectors for which UT educates, such as natural sciences, ICT and engineering and the interfaces between natural and engineering sciences and behavioural sciences.

We actively encourage international students and staff to learn Dutch, for example, by taking advantage of the UT Language Centre (UTLC) offer. Learning Dutch helps them feel at home in Enschede and the Netherlands, makes optimal use of all facilities and opportunities, establishes social contacts, and helps them gain a better understanding of what the Dutch labour market has to offer.

All information regarding the internationalisation debate is available on our topic page.

L.P.W. van der Velde MSc (Laurens)
Spokesperson Executive Board (EB)