Higher Education

, Volume 73, Issue 4, pp 597–612 | Cite as

Nordic language policies for higher education and their multi-layered motivations

  • Taina Saarinen
  • Peppi Taalas
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Language Indexing Higher Education Policy


Language policies have been drafted in Nordic higher education with the obvious, but unproblematised and unchallenged motivation caused by internationalisation. In this article, we analyse the various motivations for drafting language policies in Nordic higher education and the ideological implications of those motivations. We do this by approaching the question from multiple (macro, meso and micro) viewpoints, in order to make visible some of the undercurrents in higher education language policy. We are particularly interested in the explicit motivations for language policy change, and the explicit and implicit actors and action represented in our data. We will first discuss the background for internationalisation in Nordic higher education and then move on to our analysis of policy documents, survey data on the motivations for language policy drafting in Nordic higher education institutions. Our results indicate that internationalisation turns into a national question in the motivations. It also appears that the institutions are reactive (rather than active) in responding to perceived needs to draft a language policy.


Language policy Higher education Internationalisation Nordic higher education 



We would like to thank Anne Fabricius and John Airey as well as the two anonymous reviewers for their comments on the manuscript. Part of the research conducted for this article was funded by the Academy of Finland Grant No. 138287. The survey was conducted in a Nordplus funded Project LA-2010_1b-23999.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Applied Language StudiesUniversity of JyvaskylaJyväskyläFinland
  2. 2.Language CentreUniversity of JyvaskylaJyväskyläFinland

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