Language requirements at Ghent University for professorial staff

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A level of familiarity with the Dutch language is required for all professors by the Higher Education Codex of Flanders – even if you teach in English or your own mother tongue language. These language requirements, and how to comply with a Diploma, language test or Dutch language training are explained further. Ghent university also helps non-Dutch speaking staff with an integration program.

Language requirements

The Flemish statutory language requirements for teaching and academic staff are laid down in Art. II.270 of the Codex of the Higher Education states the following:

  • Each member of the teaching staff or of the academic staff charged with a teaching assignment must master the language in which he or she teaches a course unit at CEFR level C1. This is also called the teaching language requirement.
  • A teaching staff member or an academic staff member charged with a teaching assignment who does not teach any course units in Dutch must be fluent in the Dutch language at CEFR level B2. This is also called the administrative language requirement.

Ghent University provides for an integration program which guarantees that the staff member will speak the Dutch language as set by the Codex of the Higher Education.

These requirements are applicable for

  • Professorial staff member ZAP (with temporary or permanent position, regardless employment percentage)
  • Staff members with teaching duties such as AAP members if they are responsible for a course.

The requirements are not applicable for visiting professors.

Transitional measurement

For members of the teaching staff and academic staff, charged with a teaching assignment, the required proficiency level of the Dutch language is presumed to be automatically present for those appointed before the academic year 2013-2014 or appointed with a view to a permanent appointment. For all newly recruited ZAP members after 1 October 2014, the required administrative language must be proven.

The presumption of required language knowledge is not taken into account for the teaching language. In other words, all Professorial staff members who were recruited before or after the academic year 2013 and teach in a different language are expected to present the required language certificate.

The integration program for non-Dutch speaking professorial staff members

To comply with the Flemish statutory language requirements, the university provides guidance to obtain these requirement and foresees language training courses and a Dutch integration program. Besides the (free) Dutch language courses, you can read here which activities we organize to learn Dutch.

Administrative language

Every non-Dutch speaking professorial staff member must obtain the following language level of Dutch:

  • the Dutch CEFR level A2, obtained after 2 years after the appointment date
  • the Dutch CEFR level B2, obtained after 5 years after the appointment date or at the time of the permanent appointment.

Professorial staff members starting at the University and promoting to a new professorial position and salary scale, the timeframe of obtaining the Dutch language requirement is not changed and retained from the first start date – 5 years after the original appointment as ZAP member.

Professorial staff members not obtaining the Dutch language requirements after 5 years, but having a positive evaluation, will no longer be able to teach (in any language) until the Dutch B2 level is obtained. Thus, all teaching activities must be stopped until the required Dutch language level is achieved. This can lead to a temporary reduction of the employment and salary.

Teaching language

Professors and educational staff teaching courses in English must have CEFR C1-level proficiency in this language. Those teaching in Dutch must also have CEFR C1-level proficiency in this language. The required C1 level of English or Dutch (or other languages in case of teaching in that language) must be obtained BEFORE the course is taught.

Proving language knowledge

All professorial staff members must proof knowledge of the Dutch language when starting to work as ZAP member at a Flemish university. Proof can be provided on three ways:

  • Diploma: Professorial staff members who have studied at a high school and/or at higher education institution can provide proof of this language through a Diploma from this institution. The followed courses or program must be a program taught in the language wishing to proof.
    • For example: Dutch language knowledge can be proven by a diploma from a Flemish high school, bachelor, master or doctoral degree.
    • For example: English language knowledge can be proven by a diploma from a English high school, bachelor, master or doctoral degree.
    • Find out how to comply by providing a diploma.
  • Language test: If the professorial staff member lacks the diploma from an secondary or higher education institution of the language that needs to be proven, the knowledge can be also proven by recognized language test.
  • Language classes
    • Dutch: If taking a test is not an option because there is no knowledge yet of Dutch language, learning Dutch within a certain time frame (5 years) is imposed by the Flemish law. A proof of obtaining the B2 level must be provided at the end of the courses.
    • English: language classes can be followed at the University training centre if the proof of English is required to teach in Dutch.
    • Find out how to comply by following language courses.