The European University of today is characterised, amongst other things, by its strong commitment to the internationalisation of its study programmes, research activity and, above all, students. Students increasingly feel the need to study beyond their own national borders, and universities compete with each other to attract foreign students. This internationalisation involves institutional practices, and evokes certain attitudes towards the languages concerned. These practices and attitudes constitute the principal research focus of this project. The project looks at three bilingual contexts within the EU (Catalonia, The Basque Country, and Wales), and two particular aspects of the policies relating to internationalisation: the induction of international students into the universities, and the use of English as the language of instruction. In the Spanish universities, these two areas of institutional practice are leading to a multilingual situation in which the two community languages (Catalan/Basque and Spanish) interact - in ways that have so far received little study – both with English and with the students’ own native languages. Due to the very different position with regard to the English and Welsh languages, Wales provides a valuable comparison for our research into multilingual situations in university education.
The present project thus builds on the earlier project conducted by the same research group (SEJ2004-06723-C02-02/EDUC) which investigated multilingualism and intercultural communicative competence in the context of compulsory secondary education.