Volume 46, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0272-2690
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9889



In recent years, the significant expansion of English-medium instruction (EMI) programmes across higher education institutions outside English-speaking contexts has brought with it an inherent set of language-related tensions and ambiguities. In this article, we explore how a selection of Italian universities have tackled these tensions. Via a content analysis of university policy documents, we investigate the key language-related themes in them, and the orientations to language that these themes entail. The results show that English is seen as necessary for and almost synonymous to internationalisation, as well as a language that can bring benefits to both institutions and individuals. However, a commitment to multilingualism and to the promotion of Italian from a non-protectionist stance is apparent in the documents analysed. This finding, we argue, puts the Italian context apart from other settings that have been previously investigated (e.g. the Nordic countries), and points to an original way in which universities can navigate the language ambiguities that come with the process of higher education internationalisation.

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Keyword(s): English; English-medium instruction; higher education; Italian; language policy
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