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TU Delft recently passed a benchmark on its way to becoming an 'international university'. As of this academic year, one in ten students is foreign, and that ratio is growing rapidly.

Should even BSc classes be taught in English? Is British English the wise choice? These are some of the issues facing students, faculty and staff as the university grapples with its identity as an English-speaking, Dutch institution.

JULIAN FULTONWho is the typical TU Delft student? Around campus it‘s pretty easy to tell. The girl riding to the Sports Centre with one hand on her bike and the other holding a hockey stick is probably Dutch. The guy blocking her way by walking in the bike path is probably a foreigner. But stroll through any TU coffee corner and you'll probably hear most conversations happening in English. Inside the university it's becoming harder to tell who's who. A new breed of student is being produced in Delft.It's a fact: TU Delft is becoming an international academic superpower, the 'MIT of Europe' as some call it. Just as the TU sends the best and the brightest out into the world, it takes in more and more of the world's most eager academics. Since the first English programs were offered in 1997 . when just 13 Indonesian students enrolled . the international student body gradually began to grow. And it has virtually exploded since 2002, when all MSc programs were changed to English (and also synchronized with other European educational systems in the 'Bologna Process').This year there are 1,365 foreign (not including PhD or exchange) students, making up around 10 percent of the student body. John Stals, head of the TU's International Office, sees this as just the beginning of TU Delft's project of becoming an international university. He says that international student enrolment will continue to increase and that his department will adapt to more and more students as long as the university maintains its current policies. Although Stals said that that there's no end in sight, some in the administration might want to stabilize the mixture at around 50 percent foreign, at least for the MSc programs.The influx of foreign students has been more important for some departments than others. Declining interest among Dutch students for the 'harder' sciences, like chemical or electrical engineering, has meant that some departments must attract more foreign students to stay alive. Deok-Je Bang, an electrical engineering PhD student, came here from Korea because of TU Delft's reputation, but also because he could conduct his research in English. Sitting with Bang at a coffee break was Jason Huang, an MSc student who was born in Korea but educated in the Netherlands. "I think that for Dutch students to compete internationally," Huang says, "all of the curriculum should be in English."A national law prevents any public university from abandoning Dutch instruction altogether, but TU Delft is now investigating the demand for English classes at the BSc level. At present, most classes are still given in Dutch; only Aerospace Engineering (AE) has made the full transition to English. Tamara Croes, an aerospace engineering BSc student, is glad her curriculum is in English, because she believes she'll be better practiced for graduate school, while Ivana Masic, a BSc student in industrial design, says she welcomes the idea of more classes in English, as most of her books are in English, and some ideas are lost in translation to Dutch. "And when we go to study or work abroad, we'll be better prepared," Masic adds.AdaptationVery few would argue that the internationalization process is a bad thing, but of course some ground rules are needed. Most important is communication, and English is now the TU's second working language. More specifically, British English is the 'official English' of TU Delft. An English Language Centre has been created to oversee the translation of all official documents. Coordinator Mirjam Nieman says her job is important for maintaining TU Delft's public image as an international university that operates "not just in English, but proper English."Many academic faculties don't maintain this policy, however, and most professors don't mind as long as a student's writing is consistently British or American English. But while it may be as easy as changing the spell checker on your computer, Pepijn Pronk thinks the TU's policy is more than trivial.In his PhD research, Pronk found that more articles had been written on 'crystallization' than on 'crystallisation', so he wrote his thesis using American English, thinking it would have a better chance of being cited later. In fact Oxford English accepts both -ize and -ise suffixes, but there are many other gray . or rather grey . areas for students to watch out for.Aside from the technicalities, Dutch students don't typically have problems with English instruction. Their rigorous high school language programs and cultural orientation to the outside world have made them continental Europe's best English speakers. Some students even prefer English to their native Dutch while at school. Eric Schrijver, an MSc student in architecture, says that in his Modernity classes he finds it easier to express ideas using his English vocabulary: "Some Dutch words are just too precise."For those who need help honing their communication skills, the Institute of Technology & Communication offers several courses for Dutch and other foreign students. Bob van der Laaken, the English unit's coordinator, says the most important thing is for students to be able to clearly express ideas. As for which English they teach, he says there's no standard, but it's essential that students know "the differences and similarities between most Englishes, and how to cope with organizations that state a preference for a particular type." As TU Delft becomes more internationalized, a strategy of adaptation seems fitting.The English-language identity at TU Delft is as much about attracting foreigners as it is about preparing Dutch students for working in the global economy. Anka Mulder, director of Education & Student Affairs, says the administration must respond to the changing dynamics of students, and also ensure that they're prepared for their careers in the real world.This means that as TU Delft asserts itself as an international university, it's all the more important to develop students' English skills, as well as those of their instructors. The TU recently tested all faculty in English proficiency, and Mulder says the results were "quite good".New challenges and uncertainties may lie ahead, as TU Delft pursues this unique experiment of international education. But rest assured that the next guy you see walking past in the cafeteria won't be the typical Dutch student of yesteryear, but rather a walking hybrid of languages and cultures who is just as likely to order 'chips' or 'fries’ as patat.

JULIAN FULTONWho is the typical TU Delft student? Around campus it‘s pretty easy to tell. The girl riding to the Sports Centre with one hand on her bike and the other holding a hockey stick is probably Dutch. The guy blocking her way by walking in the bike path is probably a foreigner. But stroll through any TU coffee corner and you'll probably hear most conversations happening in English. Inside the university it's becoming harder to tell who's who. A new breed of student is being produced in Delft.It's a fact: TU Delft is becoming an international academic superpower, the 'MIT of Europe' as some call it. Just as the TU sends the best and the brightest out into the world, it takes in more and more of the world's most eager academics. Since the first English programs were offered in 1997 . when just 13 Indonesian students enrolled . the international student body gradually began to grow. And it has virtually exploded since 2002, when all MSc programs were changed to English (and also synchronized with other European educational systems in the 'Bologna Process').This year there are 1,365 foreign (not including PhD or exchange) students, making up around 10 percent of the student body. John Stals, head of the TU's International Office, sees this as just the beginning of TU Delft's project of becoming an international university. He says that international student enrolment will continue to increase and that his department will adapt to more and more students as long as the university maintains its current policies. Although Stals said that that there's no end in sight, some in the administration might want to stabilize the mixture at around 50 percent foreign, at least for the MSc programs.The influx of foreign students has been more important for some departments than others. Declining interest among Dutch students for the 'harder' sciences, like chemical or electrical engineering, has meant that some departments must attract more foreign students to stay alive. Deok-Je Bang, an electrical engineering PhD student, came here from Korea because of TU Delft's reputation, but also because he could conduct his research in English. Sitting with Bang at a coffee break was Jason Huang, an MSc student who was born in Korea but educated in the Netherlands. "I think that for Dutch students to compete internationally," Huang says, "all of the curriculum should be in English."A national law prevents any public university from abandoning Dutch instruction altogether, but TU Delft is now investigating the demand for English classes at the BSc level. At present, most classes are still given in Dutch; only Aerospace Engineering (AE) has made the full transition to English. Tamara Croes, an aerospace engineering BSc student, is glad her curriculum is in English, because she believes she'll be better practiced for graduate school, while Ivana Masic, a BSc student in industrial design, says she welcomes the idea of more classes in English, as most of her books are in English, and some ideas are lost in translation to Dutch. "And when we go to study or work abroad, we'll be better prepared," Masic adds.AdaptationVery few would argue that the internationalization process is a bad thing, but of course some ground rules are needed. Most important is communication, and English is now the TU's second working language. More specifically, British English is the 'official English' of TU Delft. An English Language Centre has been created to oversee the translation of all official documents. Coordinator Mirjam Nieman says her job is important for maintaining TU Delft's public image as an international university that operates "not just in English, but proper English."Many academic faculties don't maintain this policy, however, and most professors don't mind as long as a student's writing is consistently British or American English. But while it may be as easy as changing the spell checker on your computer, Pepijn Pronk thinks the TU's policy is more than trivial.In his PhD research, Pronk found that more articles had been written on 'crystallization' than on 'crystallisation', so he wrote his thesis using American English, thinking it would have a better chance of being cited later. In fact Oxford English accepts both -ize and -ise suffixes, but there are many other gray . or rather grey . areas for students to watch out for.Aside from the technicalities, Dutch students don't typically have problems with English instruction. Their rigorous high school language programs and cultural orientation to the outside world have made them continental Europe's best English speakers. Some students even prefer English to their native Dutch while at school. Eric Schrijver, an MSc student in architecture, says that in his Modernity classes he finds it easier to express ideas using his English vocabulary: "Some Dutch words are just too precise."For those who need help honing their communication skills, the Institute of Technology & Communication offers several courses for Dutch and other foreign students. Bob van der Laaken, the English unit's coordinator, says the most important thing is for students to be able to clearly express ideas. As for which English they teach, he says there's no standard, but it's essential that students know "the differences and similarities between most Englishes, and how to cope with organizations that state a preference for a particular type." As TU Delft becomes more internationalized, a strategy of adaptation seems fitting.The English-language identity at TU Delft is as much about attracting foreigners as it is about preparing Dutch students for working in the global economy. Anka Mulder, director of Education & Student Affairs, says the administration must respond to the changing dynamics of students, and also ensure that they're prepared for their careers in the real world.This means that as TU Delft asserts itself as an international university, it's all the more important to develop students' English skills, as well as those of their instructors. The TU recently tested all faculty in English proficiency, and Mulder says the results were "quite good".New challenges and uncertainties may lie ahead, as TU Delft pursues this unique experiment of international education. But rest assured that the next guy you see walking past in the cafeteria won't be the typical Dutch student of yesteryear, but rather a walking hybrid of languages and cultures who is just as likely to order 'chips' or 'fries’ as patat.

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