With its ‘Integration Decree’ of July 2012, the Flemish Government imposed language requirements on all Flemish universities and university colleges. Since academic year 2013-2014, lecturers have had to meet language proficiency standards in order to guarantee high-quality teaching. The University of Antwerp provides adequate support and a wide range of training opportunities to all staff members who have to meet these language requirements. We have also developed an integration programme to support international staff members.
The language requirements can be classified into two subdomains:
- lecturers need to master the language in which they teach at CEFR level C1, and
- non-native lecturers need to master the institute’s official language, Dutch, at CEFR level A2 within two years of appointment and at CEFR level B2 within five years of appointment, or upon permanent appointment. In this they are supported by the integration programme.
The CEFR is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, put together by the Council of Europe. The CEFR distinguishes three different language proficiency levels, A, B and C, which can be subdivided into two sub-levels each, 1 and 2 (making six in total). A basic user masters the language at level A, an independent user masters level B and a proficient user masters level C. Visit the website of the Council of Europe for more information.
Language of instruction
The Integration Decree states that lecturers have to master the language in which they teach at CEFR level C1. Lecturers must prove their C1 language proficiency at the beginning of the first semester in which the course starts at the latest. Thus, a non-native Dutch-speaking lecturer teaching in Dutch should master the Dutch language at CEFR level C1. A lecturer teaching in English should master the English language at CEFR level C1.
C1 language proficiency can be demonstrated by means of an official language certificate (e.g. ITACE, IELTS, TOEFL, ESOL Cambridge).
The University of Antwerp provides tailor-made assistance to staff members who have to meet the C1 language requirement. In order to obtain the required language proficiency certificate, lecturers can take a language test at Linguapolis, the University of Antwerp’s language institute.
Various exemption measures are applicable. Staff members may be exempted if they have obtained a Bachelor, Master or doctoral degree in the language concerned, provided that this language is the main language of instruction at the institute where the degree was obtained.
The regulations also stipulate that all members of teaching and academic staff who lecture as course unit coordinators but do not lecture in Dutch should also master the institute’s official language, Dutch. Drawing on the support of the university’s integration programme, lecturers should master the Dutch language at CEFR level A2 within two years of their appointment and at CEFR level B2 within five years of appointment and always upon permanent appointment. This legal requirement is designed to encourage non-Dutch-speaking lecturers to learn Dutch in order to be able to participate actively in meetings and academic life in general at the University of Antwerp.
The university supports lecturers in meeting these A2 and B2 language requirements by offering them an integration programme that is tailored to their needs. The integration programme includes a range of courses, mentoring opportunities and suitable language training that is spread over several years.
Various exemption measures are applicable. Staff members may be exempted if they have obtained a Bachelor, Master or doctoral degree in Dutch, provided that Dutch is the main language of instruction at the institute where this degree was obtained.
Should you have any questions regarding this topic, do not hesitate to contact the International Staff Office.
If you wish to take a language course during your stay, please contact Linguapolis, the University of Antwerp’s language institute. University staff members are entitled to a discount on Linguapolis course fees.