As of September prospective students can enrol for the multilingual Bachelor in Linguistics and Literary Studies (MUBA) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. This English-language programme boats a unique profile, both in Flanders, Belgium and in Europe. The programme is revolutionary in several respects.
All general courses are taught in English. You choose two main languages from a series of six, in addition, with all language-specific courses taught entirely in those languages (Dutch, English, French, German, Italian or Spanish). From the third bachelor year onwards, you can opt for a minor in one or two more languages, including Chinese. The programme also provides an international experience of six months, either on site or through an innovative form of blended learning at the VUB campus.
Urbanity & Multilingualism
The research strengths of the VUB inform the core of the new programme. The literature courses therefore mainly focus on intermediality and urbanity. In linguistics, the focus is on multilingualism, language variation and the relationship between language and cognition. These specialisations are not only explored in a rebranded set of general courses, but are also addressed in the specific courses on the six main languages offered.
Professor of Dutch Linguistics Wim Vandenbussche said: “The winning factors for this programme are clear from studies in Belgium, but also throughout Europe: multilingualism and multiculturalism are in high demand in the workplace. Companies stress time and again that they do not only need employees with language skills, but also with a good understanding of the multicultural and multilingual world at the beginning of the 21st century.
Committed, urban education that is radically based on our research can provide a substantial answer to this challenge. Add to this the city of Brussels, the second most cosmopolitan city in the world after Dubai, and we have a fully interwoven programme for students from Belgium, all over Europe and far beyond.
Brussels is the ‘living lab’ where our students intensely experience and refine their learning and skills”, added Vandenbussche.
The programme – which is an English-based mirror of the equally revamped Dutch-language bachelor’s degree – ties in directly with the already existing Multilingual Master in Linguistics and Literary Studies (MUMA). With more than 200 students from about 50 different countries, it is the largest and most diverse master’s programme in the field of linguistics and literature in Flanders.
Vandenbussche mentioned also that international students in the MUMA programme asked for an English bachelor’s programme in linguistics and literary studies that would provide a basis for further studies. The request came from them as well.
The programme was built with the international student in mind. Professor Vandenbussche added: “We wanted to tap into that unique element that Brussels has: a large international community, with lots of international and European schools. There are many multilingual and multicultural families in Brussels, with children who also want to see this reflected in their university studies. Our multilingual Bachelor’s programme will certainly feel like home for most of them.
We also attach great importance to ‘mixology’, the fact that with Brussels we teach in a beehive of local, regional and international activities. That really creates the cross-fertilisation between the community of local students and the international student community at the VUB that we want to see in our multilingual BA and MA programmes. In the end, this will also be a great added value for the students in the Dutch-language version of the programme, which will of course continue to exist in parallel.
The VUB has always had in mind that its students should learn in an open atmosphere of tolerance and diversity, and that they should be stimulated to grow into independent and critically thinking individuals, and into world citizens.”
Extra international experience with Erasmus and Eutopia
Languages are best learned in their natural habitat and the programme also caters for this, with a built-in semester focusing on international experiences. For the tried and tested Erasmus exchange experience in the third bachelor year, additional exchange opportunities were set up with VUB’s European alliance partners. But you can also gain that international experience in Brussels. Students can study up to two additional languages in their final bachelor year, and (for non-native students) there will be an extra module in Dutch as a second language.
Vandenbussche pointed out that they give students the opportunity to study up to five languages: in addition to the detailed study of the two main languages and the fluent command of English as a general teaching language, there are the minors in two extra languages. The fact that they can offer a module in Chinese language and culture is a major plus.
A unique alternative will be the ‘EUTOPIA window’, which will allow students in Brussels to take up to 30 ECTS via ‘blended learning’ courses from one of the 10 partners within the EUTOPIA alliance.