Multilingualism in University Council meetings: What contribution can Lingua Receptiva make to the inclusivity of an internationally oriented university?
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Utrecht University is now offering international students and staff the opportunity to be part of the University Council as full members. The university aims to be more inclusive, with the priority of hiring international staff, which would help improve the quality of research and education of the institution through internationalisation on a large scale. However, alanguage barrier arises, as the official language of the administration is Dutch and not many internationals have adequate proficiency in it.Therefore, this study aims to investigate the use of Lingua Receptiva as a potential solution to avoid the choice of a single language in the University Council meetings of Utrecht University,maintaining the current quality of the debate also during Dutch-English meetings.Lingua Receptiva (LaRa) is the multilingual communicative mode in which people use different languages and understand each other at the basis of the receptive proficiency in the language of the other. This multilingual communication management, supported by communicative modes such as codeswitching, English as lingua franca and translation/interpretation could facilitate communication between the two groups, leading to the maintenance of the current quality of debate and contributing to the involvement of Dutch and international members as part of the same academic community. These two factors have been the focus of this research, as the author is an international student herself, there has been personal involvement and interest in the issue. The text starts with a framework of the current situation Utrecht University is now facing, reaching its objective of innovation and improvement, and an explanation of the function of the University Council and the structure of its meetings. An important role is then given to the definition of Lingua Receptiva and the measures for its implementation, accompanied by a clarification of what is meant with quality of debate. Cumulative interviews were conducted with 19 participants, among the university and Faculty Council members and the administrative support staff. Analysis of the responses demonstrated that the quality of debate does not generally depend on the language used, but there could still be an improvement if people were allowed to speak a language they are comfortable with. The results indicate that to achieve adequate communication, preparedness on the topics discussed during the encounters is essential, alongside the concepts of participation and inclusiveness. The attitude towards LaRa was mainly positive, since a more efficient conversation could be achieved with the aim of understanding each other despite the differences. On this basis, it is advised to organise receptive language courses with a major focus on the language of administration, to allow international students and staff members to acquire the terminology needed to understand the University Council discussions on a high level of proficiency. Bilingual documents may be provided to support international members, with the addition of a small glossary of Dutch and English institutional keywords. Furthermore, a third party has been indicated by the majority of international and some Dutch respondents as necessary to arrange interpretation of the conversation and to mediate between the cultures. In case the implementation of LaRa would not result in a positive outcome, valuable alternatives proposed by the respondents of the research have been laid out, followed by recommendations.