Students and lecturers from around the UK will be gathering in Nottingham to mark the latest international success story at The University of Nottingham.
The University is hosting the biennial Dutch Student Day 2008, bringing together more than 140 students and staff from the universities of Dublin, Newcastle, Sheffield, Nottingham, Cambridge and London for two days of culture, workshops and fun on February 28-29.
They will be joined by the Dutch ambassador to the UK, Pim Waldeck, and the Dutch Embassy's Senior Officer for Culture and Education, Stella Di Meo, who will hear about the growing popularity of Dutch as a subject choice at The University of Nottingham.
The popularity of Dutch as a degree option at Nottingham has seen it growing exponentially, with student numbers increasing five-fold over the last three years. The Department of German Studies has been awarded a substantial grant from the Nederlandse Taalunie - Dutch Language Union - in support of the expansion of its Dutch Programme from a single optional module to a fully-fledged With Dutch degree, to start in 2009-2010.
A full-time permanent Lecturer of Dutch and German has been appointed and the appointment of a full-time University Teacher for Dutch is being planned. The Department has also received valuable support from the Dutch Embassy in London.
Dr Bram Mertens of The University of Nottingham, who is secretary of the Association of Low Countries Studies (ALCS), said: "At a time when the provision of Dutch at university level appears to be under threat in the British Isles, with the closure of Hull's Dutch section and departments being squeezed elsewhere, Nottingham's expansion is a huge success story.
"As our students are all linguists, some find it attractive to be able to learn a third or fourth language when they come to university, especially a language which is not taught at A-level. There is also the attraction of the Low Countries themselves, both Belgium and the Netherlands, which many of them have visited. Historically the United Kingdom has always been close to the Netherlands and Flanders, both in cultural and political terms, and this proximity continues to this day in many different areas, from sport and food to art and comedy.
"There is of course also the fact that Dutch is the 'missing link', if you like, between two larger Germanic languages, English and German, which not only aids the learning process, but can also make it a lot of fun. As we are currently finding out, having a 'smaller language' like Dutch also often gives students an extra edge in the employment market: it appears that there is a real shortage of translators who are native speakers of English - and can thus translate from Dutch into English - in the Low Countries at the moment.
"Another of the reasons why Dutch has become so popular at Nottingham is that the teaching staff in the German Department are committed to providing a full curriculum of high quality in a supportive and friendly environment."
The University of Nottingham is a leading light in the internationalisation of higher education. It currently has a UK-based international student population of 7,500 from 141 nations.
Dutch Student Day is organised by the Association of Low Countries Studies - which has Dr Nicola McLelland, of Nottingham's Department of German Studies, as its current president.
During his visit on February 29, the Dutch Ambassador will also see the University's unique Bentinck collection on its King's Meadow Campus on Lenton Lane, Nottingham. The Bentinck collection are the papers of the first Earl of Portland, Willem Bentinck, who came over during the Glorious Revolution in 1688 with William of Orange. Bentinck was William's spymaster who proved instrumental in preparing the ground for a Dutch takeover, and was rewarded with an earldom for the role he played.
More details on Dutch Student Day, and the Association of Low Countries Studies, can be found at: http://alcs.group.shef.ac.uk/studentdays/studentdays.htm
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 70 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THES) World University Rankings.
It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation -School of Pharmacy).
Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for three years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.