Languages at the University of Fribourg
The University of Fribourg is a Swiss university which is shaped by both its official bilingualism and its actual multilingualism. Situated as it is in a bilingual region on the language border between the German- and French-speaking parts of Switzerland, it is characterized by a historically developed German-French bilingualism which is enshrined in law and is a normal part of everyday life in the University community.
The University regards its linguistic position as a significant advantage in developing excellence and in its attractiveness on a national and international level.
The Language Centre is the University's language service provider. Its activities and course offerings are consistent with the goals of the language policy.
This language policy complements the guidelines contained in the University of Fribourg's Strategy 2030. It was developed on the basis of a proposal by the temporary committee "Language policy and its institutional anchoring", in which the five faculties, the four university bodies and all stakeholders were represented, and on the basis of feedback from the university community. The language policy has a strategic character: it is to be understood as a "high-level document" for the university as a whole.
Through an active language policy, the University is committed to:
- increase the employment and retention of bilingual or multilingual staff;
- strengthen multilingualism.
- maintain and strengthen its attractiveness for students from other cantons and international students;
- perform a bridging function between the different parts of the country.
- promote the attractiveness and reputation of its research units for national and international researchers;
- consolidate its position as an international university.
Characteristics and guidelines
1 – Two official languages and several working languages
- The University has two official languages: French and German.
- It encourages and supports its members in acquiring and using other languages.
- It has three working languages: French, German, and English.
- It encourages using English, which has the status of a language of science.
2 – Language quality
- The University accepts that multilingual learning and working requires continuous effort.
- Members of the University community are encouraged to participate in activities in various languages, regardless of their language level.
- Students are generally encouraged to take courses taught in a language other than their first.
- As a leading research and educational institution, the University places great emphasis on both the professionalism and the linguistic quality of all textual material it produces.
3 – Recognition thanks to multilingualism
- The University is participating in the dynamic development of the two major Swiss national languages as well as in the development of educational and higher education culture.
- The multilingual education and research it offers are attuned to the demands of a bilingual and multilingual environment at the cantonal, national and international level.
4 – Flexible use of languages in teaching
- Students can choose to take most programmes exclusively in French, exclusively in German, or bilingually.
- Many subjects are also taught in other languages, particularly in English as a language of science.
- Students are given information about language learning opportunities offered by the University, especially during their personal academic advising sessions.
5 – Demands of the economy and society
- The University recognizes the importance of language skills as an advantage in the employment market. Its multilingual profile is a factor in the promotion of the linguistic competence.
- The University promotes bilingual programmes. Students are appropriately supported, in particular by the services offered by the Language Centre.
- The University offers bilingual degrees (German - French). A requirement of such a degree is that a substantial part of the study programme, usually at least a third (including examinations and other measures of proficiency), be completed in each language.
- For certain programmes, the University also offers a trilingual degree in German, French and English.
6 – High quality and dedicated research
- Comprehensive language and communication skills are part of the expected professional competence of researchers.
- Research into multilingualism is carried out at the University of Fribourg, especially at the Institute of Multilingualism.
- In accordance with the legislation governing it, the University is mandated to contribute to the cultural, social and economic development of society.
- In communicating research results to the public, researchers are supported by the Unicom Service.
- The University endeavours to offer events in German as well as French and, whenever possible, to organise bilingual events.
7 – Efficient and flexible management
- The University's bi- and multilingualism is also reflected in its central administration.
- Central Services are able to communicate in both official languages.
- The University requires that all personnel have language and communication skills adequate to the positions they hold.
- Depending on the target audience, the University's communication takes place in German and French, as well as in English and other languages as necessary.