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ILEI Symposium abstract, Robert Phillipson

Maintaining diversity in scholarly languages

Universities are under pressure. Academic freedoms are being restricted by governments and the corporate world commissioning particular types of research, by more status being accorded to publications in English rather than other languages (bibliometric hysteria!), by the marketisation of higher education globally (English-only campuses as an export business), and by the Bologna process conflating internationalisation with English-medium education. EU policies advocate multilingualism but many EU practices, for instance in the field of research, strengthen English at the expense of other languages. It is therefore vital that universities elaborate institutional policies for fostering multilingualism, and for creating a balance between national languages and international languages, mainly but definitely not exclusively English. Some steps have been taken in this direction by the governments of the Nordic countries. Some publications document the ways in which Danish universities are becoming bilingual. Copenhagen University is in the lead in recognizing the need for research into ‘parallel competence’ as well as quality control.

See Robert Phillipson responds to Humphrey Tonkin’s Language and the ingenuity gap in science: The empire of scientific English.Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, 8/1, 117-124.

The following articles can be downloaded from
Phillipson, Robert 2009. English in higher education, panacea or pandemic?   In English in Denmark: Language policy, internationalization and university teaching, volume 9 of Angles of the English-speaking world, ed. Peter Harder. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press and the University of Copenhagen, 29-57.
Phillipson, Robert 2010. The EU and languages: diversity in what unity? In Linguistic diversity and European democracy, edited by Anne Lise Kjær and Silvia Adamo. Farnham: Ashgate, 57-74.