English-medium instruction and linguistic nationalism. Tensions between the promotion of the local language and university internationalisation

Start - End 
2020 - 2024 (stopped)
Department of Linguistics
Other institution(s) 



In this research project, we will explore the phenomenon of English-medium instruction (EMI) at universities in Belgium, the Netherlands and France, and how the place of the local language in national identity shapes the way EMI education is debated, considered and implemented. In a context of globalisation and budgetary cuts, universities are forced to find new ways of attracting investments and improving their position within the global market. Internationalisation through EMI strategies is a method which is increasingly used all over the world in order to attract new students and climb positions in world university rankings. However, a tension appears between this strategic, market-oriented choice for English on one hand and the traditional missions of universities to produce each country’s intellectual elite and promote the nation's language and cultural heritage on the other. This thesis will analyse these tensions, the debates that they raise within these societies, and how the tensions are managed and a specific language policy is legitimised. In order to do so, a corpus of political debates, media reports, and interviews with relevant political figures, student and cultural organisations, and education unions will be gathered and analysed.



Phd Student(s)


Philippe Hambye