Language and Speech Laboratory

What does “international university” mean at a European bilingual university?: The role of languages and culture

Aintzane Doiz, David Lasagabaster, Juan Manuel Sierra Plo.

Language Awareness      volume:23:172-186.

Internationalisation has brought about remarkable changes at universities all over the world. In the case of the University of the Basque Country (Spain) this is reflected in the increasing presence of English-medium instruction. This paper examines two issues: the university community’s perception of (i) the term international university and its interaction with languages and culture; and (ii) the effect of English on attitudes towards the minority language, Basque. The participants were 589 subjects (students, teachers and administration personnel) whose views were sought by analysing their responses to two open questions. Results show that there is a strong association between the presence of different languages and cultures in the conceptualisation of an international university. As for the impact of English on Basque, international students and teachers were mainly positive, whereas local students and administration personnel harboured a more reluctant attitude. Finally, we conclude that it is essential to raise language and cultural awareness in the implementation of multilingualism in higher education.