Radboud University language conventions

Radboud University Nijmegen aims to be an open, inclusive community in which all employees and students feel safe and at home. This implies that both Dutch and foreign employees and students must be able to actively participate and be heard.

In line with this ambition, the Executive Board has formulated a set of guidelines for desired language use on campus, also referred to as language conventions, for all formal and informal communication both within participational and other consultative contexts. These guidelines, which aim to prevent language from impeding communication, will apply to the entire university, including teaching, research and support services.

Language conventions

  1. Radboud University Nijmegen is a bilingual university. The university’s communications are made available in both Dutch and English where relevant. All formal documentation, signposts and announcements that are relevant to the entire Radboud community are always made available in both languages.
  2. Multilingualism on campus is encouraged: Dutch, English, German and other languages will be used flexibly, sometimes actively and sometimes in the form of ‘lingua receptiva’. Lingua receptiva is a form of multilingual communication where two speakers of different native languages but with a sufficient level of passive knowledge of each other’s language can each speak their own language and still understand each other.
  3. Dutch will be the preferred language of conduct in participational contexts and other consultative body meetings if all participants have sufficient proficiency in Dutch. However, participants can also opt for receptive multilingualism (see the explanatory notes on ‘lingua receptiva’). Anyone who wants to participate in such bodies will be expected to be able to understand Dutch and English. The university will make language courses available to all people elected to a participational body.
  4. Documentation related to policymaking, management and participation will in principle be in Dutch, unless decided otherwise. English versions, summaries or lists of decisions may be made available for important documents or meetings.
  5. Programmes will be taught in Dutch or English. (Alternative rules apply to programmes in which the target language is the language of instruction.) Each programme will decide on its own language of instruction in accordance with the primary criteria as set out in the Beleidskader Voertaal Opleidingen [Policy framework for the language of instruction in programmes]. This rule may be disregarded if the participants in a meeting or lecture agree to communicate in a language other than Dutch or English (e.g. German, French or Spanish). Student supervision and guidance within programmes will be provided in the language in which the programme is taught.
  6. If all participants in a meeting or lecture are Dutch native speakers then they may agree to use Dutch as the language of conduct, even if the meeting or lecture is held in the context of an English-taught programme or track. However, it is crucial that no one is excluded from participation in the communication. All written communication must be provided in English.
  7. The literature for a course unit will be determined by its lecturer and may be in Dutch, English or another language.
  8. Individual students can request permission to take electives in a language other than the official language of instruction of the programme. The Examining Board, having discussed the matter with the lecturer of the elective, will decide whether or not to grant the request. Each programme can define terms for submitting such requests in the programme-specific part of the Education and Examination Regulations.
  9. All lecturers and other employees will be expected to have a high language proficiency level. Lecturers who teach in English must demonstrably have mastered the language to C2 level. Similarly, international lecturers who teach in Dutch must demonstrably have C2 level proficiency in Dutch.


The university will provide language support to employees and students to enable them to adhere to the language use conventions. For example, the university will offer:

  1. A free course in Social Dutch for international students, PhD candidates and employees (course fees will be reimbursed).
  2. Dutch courses for international employees and PhD candidates based on the matching principle.
  3. Intensive Language Programmes with 50% discount for employees.
  4. Free Dutch and English courses for members of participational bodies.
  5. English courses for all employees and PhD candidates based on the matching principle. (50% subsidy from the Executive Board and 50% matching by the faculty or service unit.)
  6. Reimbursement of course fees for employees upon gaining an English language certificate based on the matching principle.
  7. Continuation of the current discount regulation for language courses for employees.
  8. Training and support for highly educated refugee students
  9. Continuation of the discount regulation for language courses: 50-70% discount for students on group courses in 17 languages.

‘Work in progress’

The Executive Board has set up a Language Ideas Box where students, employees and others can share their ideas, complaints and advice regarding language within the university. We invite everyone to send it to languagesuggestionbox [at] ru.nl (languagesuggestionbox[at]ru[dot]nl).