‘Teaching in English at the Polytechnic Institute of Milan does not affect the right to education, it increases the chance of finding a job, instead’ reads a full-page advert that the Advisory Board of the institution published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in April.
The advert, with its English headline ‘Made in Italy – Graduates to stand out in the world’ follows a ruling from Italy’s high administrative court which says Italian universities cannot offer a degree solely in English.
This option would relegate the Italian language to a marginal position in academia as well as restricting access to higher education for those students who don’t speak English, the court said.
But the Polytechnic has been fighting to offer more courses taught in English alone, and the row has rumbled on for six years. Ferruccio Resta, dean of the Polytechnic Institute of Milan, declined to comment on the advert, but re-iterated his comment on the court ruling from February this year:
‘Planning courses in Italian and in English concurrently would be expensive and would also clash with the idea of integration.
‘We have the responsibility to offer students high-quality education and this can only happen on an international scale. Such an opportunity is particularly valuable to those who cannot afford to study abroad.’
Meanwhile the president of the Accademia della Crusca [the official Italian language academy] Claudio Marazzini, was puzzled by the advert:
‘Is it even necessary to buy a full page advert on a newspaper to declare the importance of speaking English? The idea of promoting internationalisation is something we could all share; nobody has ever suggested to cancel English language,’ he told the Gazette.
‘The concept of having to get rid of the Italian language to properly learn English is misleading, in my opinion. And the advert does not really say much about this,’ he added.
Marazzini has suggested looking at the new language policy of France – which aims to boost the national language – which is likely to be adopted at European level.
Pic courtesy: Nuclear Niranjan