Chapter 14. Language policies in universities and their outcomes

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This chapter explores multilingualism in higher education in the Nordic countries with a particular focus on the University of Helsinki. It applies policy analysis and discourse analytic approaches in an effort to scrutinize the existence of language policies at different levels (EU, national, and university), their outputs and outcomes. We provide a showcase of how policy input, output and outcomes can be analysed according to a model applicable to the assessment of policy implementation. Our studies stress the importance of making distinctions between both overt and covert language policies, and between explicit and implicit language use. The study illustrates the nature of covert policies in the universities in Northern Europe that we have studied and the concomitant linguistic manifestations of these policies. A general tendency is an increasing internationalisation within higher education. This is supported by EU-level soft policies. Our findings raise questions about the impact that this policy has on multilingualism. The linguistic scene in higher education institutions in Northern Europe appears to be moving towards bilingualism in national languages and English, with the exception of some minority languages with special status. Our research shows that language policies are essential from a minority’s perspective. A general lack of evaluation and follow-up can, however, be seen. A further broadening of the language repertoires is proposed.


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