The rise of English in academe – A cautionary tale

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University World News

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The rise of English as the global academic language is picking up legal steam in Europe. In late May, amid much controversy, the French National Assembly approved changes to the 1994 Toubon law. Those changes would ease restrictions on courses taught in English at French universities.

The following day, a regional court in Italy went in the opposite direction, striking down plans at the elite Polytechnic University of Milan to offer all masters- and doctoral-level courses in English beginning with the 2014 academic year.

Both developments have unleashed passionate arguments supporting or contesting the move towards English instruction. Percolating beneath this discourse is an inherent tension reflected in separate European Commission calls, over the past month, for internationalising higher education and maintaining instructional quality.