Bilingual institutional administration processes

Bilingual or multilingual policies and practices enhance the international dimension of a higher education institution. They foster the inclusion of international students and staff in the academic and social life of a university by improving communication on key issues. 


Improved access to information Better communication and cooperation Improved quality of service

Basic information
Categories Social Integration & Daily Life Language Support, Language Policy Administrative & Legal Support Institutional Processes
Mobility stages Institutional setup
Delivery schedule Continuous
Importance Important to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups PhD student/Early career researcher R2 - R4 researchers Lecturers (incl. Language Teachers) Administrative staff Management staff
Types of contracts of researchers Full degree student Permanent employee Visiting scholar Employee in training (interns, research fellows, postdocs)
Career stages of researchers Less than 6 months 6-12-months of experience 1-3-years of experience 3-10 years of experience 10-15 years of experience More than 15 years of experience
Lengths of stays of researchers 0-3 months 3-6 months 6-12 months More than 12 months
Practice setup

Running administration processes in two languages can be quite costly and time-consuming for responsible staff. Therefore, the introduction of bilingual administration processes should rely on an effective and efficient internal language policy of an institution, taking into account the following aspects:

  • Type of services available in English (e.g. IT Helpdesk, Student Services, Admission Services, International Exchange Services, student counseling)

  • Type of documents and resources (e.g. webpages) available in both languages

  • Translation and revision modalities (e.g. in-house or outsourced)

  • Expected English language level for various positions (e.g. academics, administrative staff) 

  • Continuing professional development of administrative staff aimed to improve English language skills

Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Language department
  • Rector's office / Vice-Rector for International Affairs
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Process organization developed

Practice delivery

Once the institution's language policy and related processes have been clarified and set up, it is important to ensure the quality of services delivered in both languages. This will largely depend on the capacity and willingness of administrative staff to operate in English, which will have to be developed over time through continuing professional development and training aiming to enhance language skills. 


Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • HR Department
  • Study department
  • Research office
  • Doctoral school
  • Career development centre
  • Legal department
  • Dormitory/accommodation facility
  • IT support department
  • Quality assurance office
  • Campus health center
Partners involved in practice delivery
  • Language centre
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Percentage of all relevant documents translated to English
  • Number of researchers assisted annually
  • Average satisfaction rate

The translation of institutional documents can be outsourced to a professional company or language center.