Universities: Promoting National and International Multilingualism (HRK)

Mis à jour : 17 Mai 2012


HRK Hochschulrektorenkonferenz

Die Stimme der Hochschulen


Internationalisation of Universities: Promoting National and International Multilingualism

Global academic exchange between researchers, teachers, and students - internationalisation - is an indispensible part of university life. The more intensively universities pursue an international strategy, the greater the importance of the English language in research and teaching. As a result of this, a growing number of outstanding non-German-speaking academics and talented foreign students are coming to Germany. Yet this situation also raises the question of which language should ideally be used for research and teaching, which poses new challenges.

"We must ensure that vigorous communication among members of the university is not inhibited," said Professor Margret Wintermantel, President of the German Rectors' Conference (HRK), in Berlin today. "There is also an issue if scientific publications not in English are increasingly disregarded. This leads to a distorted competition, which is unacceptable."

When universities rely exclusively on English-language communication in research, teaching, and learning activities, this occurs at the expense of other languages, including German, and thus jeopardises linguistic diversity. "One must consider carefully what is sensible for the various individual disciplines - naturally there is a great difference between engineering sciences and philology."

Against this background, the participants of the General Meeting of the HRK, in their recommendations for "Language Policy at German Universities", call for the promotion of multilingualism in academia, at both the national and international levels. Universities are keen to lend their support to creating greater awareness of language policy issues, and to promoting the conscious use of different languages in everyday university life. Linguistic diversity should contribute to the preservation of German as an academic language and support the skilled acquisition and use of other languages.

In order for this to succeed, the universities need appropriate staff, have to conduct language research and operate language centres, and must provide academics with translations and interpreters. Furthermore, the HRK is calling for European bibliometric instruments for non- English language publications in order to ensure appropriate consideration of publications in languages other than English.

You find the text of the recommendation here.

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