Volume 9, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN 2211-7245
  • E-ISSN: 2211-7253



We investigated whether the language of instruction (Dutch or English) influenced the study success of 614 Dutch and German first-year psychology students in the Netherlands. The Dutch students who were instructed in Dutch studied in their native language (L1), the other students in a second language (L2). In addition, only the Dutch students studied in their home country. Both these variables could potentially influence study success, operationalised as the number of European Credits (ECs) the students obtained, their grades, and drop-out rates. The L1 group outperformed the three L2 groups with respect to grades, but there were no significant differences in ECs and drop-out rates (although descriptively, the L1 group still performed best). In conclusion, this study shows an advantage of studying in the L1 when it comes to grades, and thereby contributes to the current debate in the Dutch media regarding the desirability of offering degrees taught in English.

Available under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Benjamini, Y. , & Hochberg, Y.
    (1995) Controlling the false discovery rate: A new and powerful approach to multiple testing. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series B (Methodological), 57(1), 289–300. 10.1111/j.2517‑6161.1995.tb02031.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2517-6161.1995.tb02031.x [Google Scholar]
  2. Dafouz, E. , Camacho, M. , & Urquia, E.
    (2014) ‘Surely they can’t do as well’: A comparison of business students’ academic performance in English-medium and Spanish-as-first-language-medium programmes. Language and Education, 28(3), 223–236. doi:  10.1080/09500782.2013.808661
    https://doi.org/10.1080/09500782.2013.808661 [Google Scholar]
  3. De Groot, A. M. B.
    (2017) Nederlands moet. Over meertaligheid en de verengelsing van het universitaire onderwijs [transcript]. University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam. Retrieved fromhttps://www.scienceguide.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Binnenwerk_150917.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  4. De Koning, B. B. , Loyens, S. M. M. , Rikers, R. M. J. P. , Smeets, G. , & Van der Molen, H. T.
    (2012) Generation Psy: Student characteristics and academic achievement in a three-year problem-based learning bachelor program. Learning and Individual Differences, 22(3), 313–323. doi:  10.1016/j.lindif.2012.01.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2012.01.003 [Google Scholar]
  5. De Vos, J. F.
    (2019) Naturalistic word learning in a second language. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Radboud University, Nijmegen.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Efron, B. , & Tibshirani, R. J.
    (1993) An introduction to the bootstrap. New York, NY: Chapman & Hall. 10.1007/978‑1‑4899‑4541‑9
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-4541-9 [Google Scholar]
  7. Field, A. P. , & Wilcox, R. R.
    (2017) Robust statistical methods: A primer for clinical psychology and experimental psychopathology researchers. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 98, 19–38. doi:  10.1016/j.brat.2017.05.013
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2017.05.013 [Google Scholar]
  8. Field, A. , Miles, J. , & Field, Z.
    (2012) Discovering Statistics Using R. London, UK: SAGE.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Fonteyne, L. , De Fruyt, F. , & Duyck, W.
    (2014) To fail or not to fail? Identifying students at risk by predicting academic success. In M. F. Freda (Ed.), Reflexivity in higher education: Research and models of intervention for underachieving students (pp.345–356). Rome, Italy: Aracne. doi: 10.4399/978885487014727
    https://doi.org/10.4399/978885487014727 [Google Scholar]
  10. Hellekjaer, G. O.
    (2010) Assessing lecture comprehension in Norwegian English-medium higher education. In C. Dalton-Puffer , T. Nikula , & U. Smit (Eds.), Language use and language learning in CLIL classrooms (pp.233–258). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi:  10.1075/aals.7
    https://doi.org/10.1075/aals.7 [Google Scholar]
  11. Hermans, F.
    (2017, October10). Studenten willen geen les meer in steenkolen-Engels van docenten. De Gelderlander. Retrieved fromhttps://www.gelderlander.nl/nijmegen-e-o/studenten-willen-geen-les-meer-in-steenkolen-engels-van-docenten~a5a997b1/
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Huygen, F.
    (2017, June28). Opinie: Engels als voertaal vernielt het hoger onderwijs. De Volkskrant. Retrieved fromhttps://www.volkskrant.nl/columns-opinie/opinie-engels-als-voertaal-vernielt-het-hoger-onderwijs~b7fd8359/
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Joe, Y. , & Lee, H.-K.
    (2013) Does English-medium instruction benefit students in EFL contexts? A case study of medical students in Korea. The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 22(2), 201–207. doi:  10.1007/s40299‑012‑0003‑7
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s40299-012-0003-7 [Google Scholar]
  14. Kleinjan, G.-J.
    (2017, November16). Steenkolenengels bij docenten: ‘Experts die details en nuances missen. Zo jammer’. Trouw. Retrieved fromhttps://www.trouw.nl/home/steenkolenengels-bij-docenten-experts-die-details-en-nuances-missen-zo-jammer-~ade0943b/
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Lakens, D.
    (2016, February14). Why you don’t need to adjust your α level for all tests you’ll do in your lifetime [Blog post]. Retrieved fromdaniellakens.blogspot.com/2016/02/why-you-dont-need-to-adjust-you-α.html
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Li, J. , & Ji, L.
    (2005) Adjusting multiple testing in multilocus analyses using the eigenvalues of a correlation matrix. Heredity, 95(3), 221–227. doi:  10.1038/sj.hdy.6800717
    https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.hdy.6800717 [Google Scholar]
  17. Macaro, E. , Curle, S. , Pun, J. , An, J. , & Dearden, J.
    (2018) A systematic review of English medium instruction in higher education. Language Teaching, 51(1), 36–76. doi:  10.1017/S0261444817000350
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444817000350 [Google Scholar]
  18. Nyholt, D. R.
    (2004) A simple correction for multiple testing for SNPs in linkage disequilibrium with each other. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 74(4), 765–769. doi:  10.1086/383251
    https://doi.org/10.1086/383251 [Google Scholar]
  19. (2015) Matrix Spectral Decomposition (matSpD) – Estimate the equivalent number of independent variables in a correlation (r) matrix. Retrieved fromhttps://sites.google.com/site/qutsgel/software/matspd-local-version
    [Google Scholar]
  20. R Core Team
    R Core Team (2018) R: A language and environment for statistical computing [Computer software]. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Retrieved fromhttps://www.R-project.org/
  21. Rienties, B. C. , Beausaert, S. A. J. , Grohnert, T. , Niemantsverdriet, S. , & Kommers, P.
    (2012) Understanding academic performance of international students: The role of ethnicity, academic and social integration. Higher Education, 63(6), 685–700. doi:  10.1007/s10734‑011‑9468‑1
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-011-9468-1 [Google Scholar]
  22. Tatzl, D. , & Messnarz, B.
    (2013) Testing foreign language impact on engineering students’ scientific problem-solving performance. European Journal of Engineering Education, 38(6), 620–630. doi:  10.1080/03043797.2012.719001
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03043797.2012.719001 [Google Scholar]
  23. Tempelaar, D. T. , Rienties, B. , & Gijselaers, W. H.
    (2006) Internationalisering: en de Nederlandse student?Onderzoek van Onderwijs, 35(3), 40–45.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Teuling, I.
    (2017, July11). Zorgen over kwaliteit Engelstalig onderwijs universiteiten en hogescholen. De Volkskrant. Retrieved fromhttps://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achtergrond/zorgen-over-kwaliteit-engelstalig-onderwijs-universiteiten-en-hogescholen~bcce8e6c/
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Vander Beken, H. , & Brysbaert, M.
    (2018) Studying texts in a second language: The importance of test type. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 21(5), 1062–1074. doi:  10.1017/S1366728917000189
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728917000189 [Google Scholar]
  26. Vasterman, P.
    (2017, November13). Keuze voor Engels schaadt de inhoud op de universiteit. NRC Handelsblad. Retrieved fromhttps://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2017/11/13/keuze-voor-engels-schaadt-de-inhoud-op-de-universiteit-13989528-a1580911
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Vinke, A. A.
    (1995) English as the medium of instruction in Dutch engineering education (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved fromResearch Repository TU Delft (Accession no. uuid:491b55f9-fbf9-4650-a44d-acb9af8412a8)
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Vinke, A. A. , Snippe, J. , & Jochems, W.
    (1998) English-medium content courses in non-English higher education: A study of lecturer experiences and teaching behaviours. Teaching in Higher Education, 3(3), 383–394. doi:  10.1080/1356215980030307
    https://doi.org/10.1080/1356215980030307 [Google Scholar]
  29. Zijlmans, L. , Neijt, A. , & Van Hout, R.
    (2016) The role of second language in higher education: A case study of German students at a Dutch university. Language Learning in Higher Education, 6(2), 473–493. doi:  10.1515/cercles‑2016‑0026
    https://doi.org/10.1515/cercles-2016-0026 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error