DAG Vision: Responsible and Sustainable Internationalisation

The UG’s internationalisation policy presents structural flaws that hinder students and staff from benefitting from a truly international university, as it is mainly seen as a business model. Read our analysis and vision below!

Analysis

One of the key goals of the University of Groningen, in its position of a modern neoliberal university, is to attract tuition payers from all over the world. Encouraging foreign students to study in Groningen is not a problem per se; it becomes such when the added value that internationals can provide is only equated to the money they feed the system with. Most of the courses at the University of Groningen are taught in English: this surely is a big step forward in the direction of a more inclusive university. There are, however, courses and programs which are intrinsically meant to be taught in Dutch, and whose quality is therefore undermined by the choice of English as the language of teaching.“International university” is a status that institutions all over the world like to boast about, and the UG makes no exception. However, this denomination often stands for “globalised university”. The difference is not just in the wording: while “globalised” implies homogeneity, “internationalised” stresses and encourages diversity.

In this context, the risk of cultural homogenisation is high: an environment is created where students are only exposed to one school of thought. All the while, researchers are forced to publish in international, English-language journals in order for their research to be appreciated. This eliminates the possibility of publication on other platforms, for example in national newspapers where the reach could be larger or simply where the article would fit better.Moreover, the University of Groningen, like other universities in the Netherlands, does not take enough responsibility for students coming from abroad. Within a saturated housing market, the RUG washes its hands of international students by only providing a short-stay accommodation through the company SSH. This way foreign students find themselves overpaying for temporary rooms which are available in a limited number only. International students are treated as if they were a business model.

The distinction between foreign students and Dutch students, for example in the housing market, is a source of problems when it comes to integration. Instead of being seen by the university as an organic part of the academic community, international students and staff are sometimes marginalised and integration is not properly achieved.

Our vision

DAG firmly believes that a truly international University is one where internationalisation means something, and where it is not just a tool to climb higher in rankings or to increase income. Important features of such an institution are the openness to diversity and the attention to different cultures. Such peculiarities must be actively encouraged by the RUG. In particular, the language of instruction of each single course should be determined separately, bearing in mind the peculiarities of the subject being taught and its relation to the cultures of different countries.

The emphasis on English language in academic publications is to be reduced, allowing scholars to write in whichever language best fits the topic. International journals and the elusive prestige associated to them should not be the focus of a researcher’s career.

Finally, the UG should take more responsibility in the integration of foreign students, both on the housing side and on the decision-making side. More and higher quality housing is to be offered to students, regardless of their nationality. Participation of foreign students in the decision-making process should be made possible and encouraged. This will help puncture the “international bubble” in which students coming from abroad currently are, and will contribute to create a more diverse and dynamic academic environment.

The University doesn’t need international competition but international collaboration; it shouldn’t foster globalisation but promote integration in order to achieve a communal knowledge project.

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