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6. Brief UR Beleidsspeerpunten Engels

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Spiegel – kamer 500

To the Members of the Executive Board,

Uw kenmerk


053 - 489 2027

Ons kenmerk

UR 07-047



1 februari 2007


Dear Members of the Executive Board,

The University Council is delighted by the Beleidsspeerpunten en actieplan Internationalisering 2007, which has been presented to us. We believe the internationalisation policy is headed in the right direction, and we are especially pleased with the following policies which have been proposed by the Executive Board:

•Increased mobility for students and staff between member institutes of the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU),

•The revision of the consultation-structure (overlegstructuur), which will include a student representative (from the Student Union),

•The development of clear competence-based admission and graduation criteria for Master-degrees which should provide prospective students with a good idea about how they must prepare for attending the University of Twente and what they can expect to learn during the time they spend here,

•The development of pre-Master courses which can be completed before coming to the University of Twente,

•The intention to offer English, Dutch and other language classes at the University of Twente,

•Increasing the number of scholarships available to non – E.U. students,

•Plans to recruit students in the ‘key markets’ by leveraging the University of Twente’s network, students and alumni contacts and coordinating these activities with ITC and our 3TU partners,

•Increasing the number of English-language courses in the last phase of the Bachelor to enable international exchange and bridge the gap between student’s previous Dutch-medium education and the English-medium Master-degrees.

The University Counsel believes that the courses that are already using English-language teaching materials are most appropriate for switching to English-language teaching. Improving students’ English language proficiency should be an additional component of these courses.

And, we would like to emphasise our support for the policy

•To free up 30 EC in the 5th semester of the Bachelor-degrees (minor + elective courses) which can be used by our own students to study at another university with minimal restrictions and delays. We sincerely hope that this policy will be implemented across all Bachelor-programmes during the 2007/2008 academic year. We believe this international experience will have a positive effect on the academic and personal development of our students.

We would also like to draw your attention to the following policy areas

•Language Choice – The University Council does not support the current English-by-default policy for all Master programmes. We believe a programme (Bachelor and Master) should use English as the language of instruction only when:

oThere are clear benefits for a particular program to use English as the medium of instruction. These considerations could include the likelihood of recruiting qualified Dutch and foreign students, the demands of the labour market, etc.

oAdequate provisions are made to ensure that the English language ability of students and staff is as good or better when compared to universities in English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom,

oClear performance criteria are set and assessed to ensure that the quality of education of English-language programmes is equivalent or exceeds the quality of similar Dutch-language programmes at the University of Twente,

Ultimately, the decision to change the language of a programme should be made by the programme management.

•Intercultural Communications – When people of different cultural backgrounds meet there may be friendship, understanding, learning, but also conflict. To deal with these situations, the university must emphasise the following:

oMutual Respect – Staff and students cannot be expected to always understand each other’s culture and customs. But they can be expected to deal with it rationally and responsibly and to reach agreement on how all parties can learn and work together successfully,

oInstitutional Culture – This is a Dutch University which means that there is little hierarchy, a very direct way of communicating and that students and staff are responsible for looking after their own interests. Foreigners should be made aware of this and Dutch people should realise that their system is not universal and that foreigners may need some time to adapt.

oAccessibility – Representative bodies (such as the Programme Committee (opleidingscommissie)) at the University of Twente must be accessible to foreigners. This means foreigners must be made aware that they can vote and stand for election and who their representatives are. The working-language of these bodies may be in Dutch unless a member of such a body requests they take place in English.

Naturally, intercultural exchanges can be very enriching to the lives of students and staff, and although there are challenges, as a whole internationalisation will benefit the University of Twente,

•Consultation Structure – Internationalisation naturally also extends to staff, and hence the University Council recommends that the Personnel Department (PA&O) be added to the operational consultation committee (operationeel overleg),

•Investments – The investments in the quality-control system and the development of long-distance course material may be particularly valuable, should the University of Twente expand its cooperation with foreign partners in future.

The University Council hopes that the Executive Board’s internationalisation policy will achieve its goals. This topic is of great importance to the University of Twente and of great interest to the University Council. We would like very much to be kept abreast of its future development.

Yours sincerely,

ir. T.M.J. Meijer