Dual language policy

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) is a bilingual university, which uses both Dutch and English. This policy was introduced in 2015 and now needs an update.

What does the current dual language policy look like?

  • Command of English and Dutch related to job level
    EUR encourages all Dutch speaking staff to be able to speak and write English at a satisfactory level, according to its importance for their job. English speaking staff are expected to have a satisfactory command of Dutch if this is required in their job. With respect to English speaking staff working in an English speaking environment, EUR wants to enable them to master the basic principles of the Dutch language. The starting point here is that it is important to be able to communicate and also feel at home in Dutch speaking environments.

  • Extra attention for support staff
    Academics are accustomed to using English, but this is not (yet) the case for support staff. Extra support is therefore provided for this group, with language tests and additional language training, if necessary, to raise the level (of English and Dutch) to fulfil the requirements for their position. The goal is for all support staff to achieve that level by the end of 2018! Wherever this is desirable for their work, EUR will give staff members the opportunity to improve their language skills.
  • Framework of Language levels
    The desired language level for each member of staff is based on a combination of job, work level and ‘Dutchness’ or ‘Englishness’ of the working environment (what are the language requirements of the working environment?) and is determined using the following framework of language levels. The English language environment is determined by:
    • The percentage of non-Dutch speaking students
    • The percentage of non-Dutch speaking colleagues
    • The percentage of non-Dutch contacts
    • The main language used to communicate in the department or faculty
  • Language & Training Centre
    On the website of the Language & Training Centre, you can find out what CEFR matrix means. It also provides information about support for staff, for example when the next Dutch or English language assessment is taking place or when the next Dutch or English course is being organised.

Framework of language levels

Please find the framework for both the English and the Dutch language below.

Sharon Limburg
Sharon Limburg

How does dual language policy work in practice?

Dual language policy might seem simple, but it can generate questions in concrete situations. For example, what do you do if, as the only non-Dutch speaker, you are required to discuss an ICT problem with 30 delegates from other universities? Or you’ve delivered an extensive report to the Executive Board on the climate in the buildings and the University Council wants to receive an English version of that report too?

Agreements have been reached on how to behave in such situations:

  1. Everyone is expected to understand written and spoken text in English/Dutch. People speak the language that is preferred, but we use English or Dutch if this is specifically required in your job.
  2. In meetings where one or more non-Dutch speakers are present, the language used is English, unless those present have sufficient passive knowledge of Dutch. In principle, everyone must be able to follow the meeting. The chair determines the language(s) in which the minutes are written, taking into account (possible) further distribution of the report.
  3. Everyone working at EUR (staff as well as external parties e.g. the caterers) are expected to have a command of English which corresponds to the guidelines in the frameworks of language levels. 
  4. Non-Dutch speakers who are employed for longer than 1 year are given support in learning Dutch (at basic level). Unless command of Dutch is a specific requirement in their job, they are expected to fulfil the guidelines in the language matrix within 2 years.
  5. Non-Dutch speakers who expect to stay in the Netherlands for longer than four years are provided support in learning Dutch up to level B1.
  6. If there is a language requirement, the language level on entering employment is determined (through certificates or tests) and the education need identified. Staff must have a command of English corresponding to the level required by their job within 2 years (see framework of language level).
  7. Language is a permanent point of attention in the R&O.
  8. Organisation units must budget for the costs of language education and this is the responsibility for the management.
  9. Periodically* it is determined what other documents/information:
    a. Must be available in both Dutch and English
    b. Which documents must be available in English with a Dutch summary and vice versa
  10. Regulations are always provided in Dutch and English**. In this case, the documents in Dutch prevail over those in English. This must also be mentioned in the English version.
  11. A statement of objection or appeal must be submitted in Dutch and English. The decision relating to the objection/appeal is given in Dutch, perhaps with a summary in English. Here too, the Dutch versions will prevail.
  12. Hearings of the Advisory Committee on Administrative Appeals (ACB) and the Examination Appeal Board (CBE) are in principle held in Dutch***, unless the president decides otherwise. An interpreter will assist non-Dutch speaking staff/students.

*Once every three years.
**With the exception of teaching and exam regulations, the language of which depends on the language used within the programme.
***Language of communication of any follow-up process at the Appeals Tribunal for Higher Education (CBHO) or Court is only Dutch.

Practical links:


Do you have questions?

Email address

If you have questions regarding language assessments or courses, please contact the Language & Training Centre directly via 010-4081997 or ltc@eur.nl

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