n South African Journal of Higher Education - Multilingual universities : a national and international overview

Volume 19, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article focuses on language planning and management in higher education, specifically at comprehensive research-oriented universities, with a view to comparing and analysing implementation processes and issues at different national and international institutions. Universities included in the study were the Universities of Ottawa (Canada), Helsinki and A G bo Akademi (both in Finland), Barcelona (Spain), Fribourg (Switzerland) and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). Inside South Africa a similar investigation was conducted with two historically Afrikaans universities; one urban (University of Pretoria) and one rural university (University of North-West, Potchefstroom and Vaal Triangle Campuses). The researchers interviewed vice-chancellors, registrars and other officials with the executive responsibility to implement institutional language policies, plans and/ or procedures. The situation elsewhere in Africa is also described by looking at the available literature. The study concludes that the way in which multilingualism is managed is very context-dependent. The implications for South African institutions are discussed by looking at cultural mandates that are supported by state or regional governments, the perceived cost of multilingualism and the status of mother tongues in different environments. The discussion concludes by discussing national and international agendas that compete for equal treatment and limited budgets.

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