University language policies – how does Finnish mono- or biligualism meet academic multilingualism?

Heidi Rontu, Taina Saarinen
Aalto University, University of Jyväskylä
heidi.rontu _arvaa_, taina.m.saarinen _arvaa_

In this paper we present two cases of university language policies, focussing how the language needs and profiles of future students and staff – and ultimately  the language futures of the universities are manifested in the policies. The case universities are two Finnish universities, Aalto University and University of Jyväskylä.

The two universities have a different kind of  history and background. Aalto University is the result of a recent amalgamation of two bilingual Finnish-Swedish universities, Helsinki University of Technology and University of Art and Design,  and one monolingual Finnish university, Helsinki School of Economics. The formally monilingually Finnish University of Jyväskylä, in turn, was originally the first Finnish language teacher seminary.

The aim of the paper is to answer the following questions:

1. How are the future language needs construed in the policies ?
2. What languages are specifically mentioned as languages needed by students and staff ?
3. What is the position of the national languages Finnish and Swedish in relation to other languages, particularly English?

Both universities have recently drafted (Aalto) or  revised (Jyväskylä) their official language policies. In addition to the policy documents, we will look into documentation at different levels, e.g. central administration and faculties. Morover, we will conduct interviews with actors at different levels. We will apply discourse analysis as a research method, focussing particularly on discursive operationalizations (Saarinen 2007) of a desired language (policy) future in the two universities.


Keywords: university, language policy, Finland



Saarinen, Taina. 2007. Quality on the Move. Discursive construction of higher education policy from the perspective of quality. Jyväskylä Studies in Humanities 83.


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