Revised language guidelines support multilingualism

Implementation plan to be finalised by year’s end
Aalto-yliopiston opiskelijoita opiskelemassa pöydän ääressä. Kuva: Aalto-yliopisto / Unto Rautio
Photo: Aalto University / Unto Rautio.

Aalto University has revised it general language guidelines as well as its guidelines on the languages of degrees and instruction. The updated guidelines encourage linguistic diversity, multilingualism and the parallel use of languages. The updates will come into effect in January 2024. 

‘Our language policies and practices should aim to ensure that everyone at the university feels welcome as full members of community. The renewed guidelines take into account both internationalisation as well as Finland’s national languages. We use Finnish, Swedish and English in parallel as best suited to the purpose at hand’, explains Provost Kristiina Mäkelä.

Increased instruction using the national languages

Our general language guidelines were decided by the president on 22 November 2023.  They lay down the general principles concerning language at Aalto as an international, multicultural and inclusive university.

The Guidelines on the Languages of the Degrees and Instruction were decided by the Academic Affairs Committee (AAC), on 21 November 2023. These guidelines concern languages of degree programmes, teaching, instruction and advising, language of degree certificates, terminology related to teaching and fields, applications to curriculum and study attainment and students’ language rights. 

In teaching, Aalto is increasing the selection and the alternatives available to students in the national languages of Finland. Degree programmes may also be multilingual in the future. Students and teachers will also be encouraged to study and use the national languages.

‘We are building greater flexibility into our daily use of multilingualism. The language rights of students will be clarified, and teachers will have support for implementing the revised guidelines and for advancing multilingualism. We want students right at the outset of a course to clearly understand what languages may be used for studying and for completing the course’, explains Petri Suomala, Vice President for Education.

Implementation to occur in stages

With the collaboration of our experts, the plan for implementing the will be finalised at end of 2023. Implementation of the guidelines on the languages of degrees and instruction will occur in stages over the next two curriculum periods.

In 2023, there was broad participation by the Aalto community in the revision of the guidelines through numerous committees, steering groups and discussions. Ideas and feedback were collected via an online platform that was accessible to all students and staff. 

‘A tremendous thanks to all who took part in the lively discussion and formulation of our language policy. We received many comments particularly about the implementation, and these will be taken on board during December as we put the plan into final form’, reports Kristiina Mäkelä.

The revised guidelines have also incorporated the response issued last spring by Finland’s Deputy Chancellor of Justice, Mikko Puumalainen, as a complaint resolution. The updated guidelines are a part of the response that Aalto University is preparing this year.

The aim of the language guidelines is to support Aalto’s mission as part of the global scientific and artistic community as well as nationally to promote Finland’s success by having a positive impact on Finnish society and its internationalisation. The aim is to support our community’s multilingualism and multiculturalism, to promote the participation and equality of the community’s members, and to safeguard the position of Finland’s national languages as languages of research and higher education in the fields of the university. 

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Eija Zitting

Head of Learning Services
U902 Learning Services
Ida Salin

Ida Salin

HR Specialist, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer
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