The rise of English in European PSE sparks controversy

July 22, 2013

The idea of using English as the global academic language is “picking up legal steam” in Europe. This past spring, the French National Assembly approved changes to one of its language laws that would ease restrictions on courses taught in English at French universities. However, the next day, a regional court in Italy struck down plans at the Polytechnic University of Milan to offer all masters- and doctoral-level courses in English beginning with the 2014 academic year. Both cases have ignited strong support for or opposition against the increase of the English language in academia. In Italy, the Milan polytechnic’s academic senate and board of directors have jointly decided to appeal the decision, defending “its duty to guarantee its students the ‘right to the best possible education and training’ and the institution’s autonomy in defining the instructional program.” But the courts maintain that the move towards English would demote non-English speaking faculty to basic courses “without considering which subjects might lend themselves better to one language or the other.” University World News