Language policies in universities and their outcomes: the University of Helsinki in a northern European context

Tom Moring, Sebastian Godenhjelm, Saara Haapamäki, Jan Lindström, Jan-Ola Östman, Mirja Saari, Jenny Sylvin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter explores multilingualism in higher education in the Nordic countries with a particular focus on the University of Helsinki. It applies policy analysis and discourse analytic approaches in an eftort to scrutinize the existence of language policies at dierent levels (EU, national, and university), their outputs and outcomes. We provide a showcase of how policy input, output and outcomes can be analysed according to a model applicable to the assessment of policy implementation. Our studies stress the importance of making distinctions between both overt and covert language policies, and between explicit and implicit language use. The study illustrates the nature of covert policies in the universities in Northern Europe that we have studied and the concomitant linguistic manifestations of these policies. A general tendency is an increasing internationalisation within higher education. This is supported by EU-level soft policies. Our findings raise questions about the impact that this policy has on multilingualism. The linguistic scene in higher education institutions in Northern Europe appears to be moving towards bilingualism in national languages and English, with the exception of some minority languages with special status. Our research shows that language policies are essential from a minority’s perspective. A general lack of evaluation and follow-up can, however, be seen. A further broadening of the language repertoires is proposed.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Title of host publicationExploring the Dynamics of Multilingualism
EditorsAnne-Claude Berthoud, François Grin
PublisherJohn Benjamins
ISBN (Print)9789027200563
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

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