Professors fail English tests

Summary

About one in five professors who teach in English at Flemish universities failed to pass a test that measured their English-language skills. Lecturers who failed the test will still be able to give classes in English this academic year and will be given the time to improve their English skills, according to Flemish MP Fientje Moerman.

Those who refused the test will not be allowed to teach in English

About one in five professors who teach in English at Flemish universities failed to pass a test that measured their English-language skills. Lecturers who failed the test will still be able to give classes in English this academic year and will be given the time to improve their English skills, according to Flemish MP Fientje Moerman.

The test was given to 3,000 university lecturers and professors, with the worst scores coming from the Free University of Brussels (VUB) at a failure rate of 20%. Hasselt teachers had a failure rate of between 15 and 20%, Ghent 14% and Antwerp 13%. The university of Leuven did best, with only one in 10 failing. Across the region, 107 professors refused to take the test: They will not be allowed to continue teaching in English.

The universities defended their professors, many of whom have given lectures in English for years without negative comments. “These people are among the top in their field,” said Kristiaan Versluys, director of education at the University of Ghent. “They include potential Nobel Prize winners. They publish in English language journals and speak at international conferences. And now this comes along.”

As Flanders Today went to press, education minister Pascal Smet had not yet commented on the issue.

In related news, Paul De Knop, rector of the VUB, called for more lessons in more languages. Speaking at the opening of the academic year, he said he would like to see students able to follow at least one course in French, English or another language and was awaiting the reactions of the university’s faculties to his suggestion.

“Not only will the language abilities of the Flemish in Brussels be improved,” he said, “they will also have more chance on the international labour market.”

University professors fail English tests

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Educational system

The Flemish educational system is divided into two levels: primary (age six to 12) and secondary school (12 to 18). Education is compulsory for children between the ages of six and 18.
Types - There are three educational networks in Flanders: the Flemish Community’s GO! network, and publicly funded education – either publicly or privately run.
Not enough space - In recent years, Flemish schools have been struggling with persistent teacher shortages and a growing lack of school spaces.
No tuition fees - Nursery, primary and secondary school are free in Flanders.
1

million school-going children in 2013

30

million euros Flemish education budget for new school infrastructures in 2013

11

percent of boys leaving secondary school without a diploma