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Managing Language Policy Formulation at a German University of Applied Sciences

  • Existing literature (Erling & Hingeldorf, 2006; Earls, 2014) indicates that there is a lack of formal policies at the macro- or meso-level governing the use of English in German higher education. This has led to a situation in which higher education institutions (HEIs) are required to formulate and implement their own policies and guidelines regarding English-medium instruction (EMI). As a growing number of HEIs adopt EMI (Wächter & Maiworm, 2014; Macaro et al., 2018) without access to policy guidelines, there is an urgent need to scrutinize the policy formulation and implementation processes at the institutional level. Such investigation is crucial to understand the complexities that come with tailoring EMI to unique institutional contexts, objectives, and stakeholder needs. We believe that this will enable more effective and equitable implementations, while also providing insights that could inform future policy recommendations. In this article, we analyze the motivations for drafting a language policy at a medium-sized German university of applied sciences1 (UAS) and investigate the attitudes and opinions towards EMI of three stakeholder groups: faculty members, administrative staff, and the student body. We were especially interested in exploring the rationales for implementing Bilingual Degree Programs (BDPs), as a variant of EMI, and how each stakeholder group influenced the formulation and implementation of the policy. To get an initial overview, we read institutional policy documents outlining the proposed language policy. We then complemented the documentary analysis by conducting a survey investigating the attitudes and opinions of the stakeholder groups using a questionnaire format (n=207). Finally, to gain deeper insights and triangulate data from the questionnaire, we conducted semi-structured interviews (n=18). Analysis of the data indicates that the primary motivation for implementing BDPs is to attract greater numbers of international as well as domestic applicants to make up for an ongoing decline in student numbers. We also discovered that stakeholder groups hold different beliefs about BDPs, impacting their level of support for their implementation. We argue this is due to some groups within the institution being more influential in policy formulation, leading to feelings of disempowerment in individuals tasked with implementing BDPs, but not being consulted in the policy formulation process. Finally, it also seems that the institutional policy is driven by experience in implementation, resulting in policy enhancement over time. We assume this approach is a direct outcome of the lack of policy guidelines and consider the issues that arise from such an approach and share implications of the current practice.

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Author:Andrew McDouall, Ozan Varli
Parent Title (English):Language Education and Multilingualism : The Langscape Journal
Document Type:Article (peer-reviewed)
Year of Completion:2023
Release Date:2023/12/18
Tag:English-medium instruction (EMI); Internationalization in Higher Education; Language policy formulation
First Page:131
Last Page:141
Open-Access-Status: Open Access 
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY-NC-ND - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International