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Sharing Perspectives on English-Medium Instruction

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Edited By Katherine Ackerley, Marta Guarda and Francesca Helm

English is increasingly used as a medium of instruction in European higher education not only in northern countries, but also in the European ‘south’. This volume is fruit of a project which was carried out in a public university based in the north-east of Italy with the aim of delivering professional development for university lecturers engaged in EMI. It begins with an overview of the European context, the Italian context, and some of the arguments against the indiscriminate spread of English as a medium of instruction in higher education. The volume then focuses on the microcontext of the university, giving voice to the various stakeholders in EMI. These include researchers, lecturers, administrative staff, those involved in professional development and students. The central part of the volume presents the views and experiences of twelve EMI lecturers from a range of academic disciplines. In sharing these perspectives on EMI, the volume hopes to stimulate critical dialogue and research on the many issues involved in this aspect of internationalisation in higher education institutions.

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The student services officer (Sonia Gelain)

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← 158 | 159 →

SONIA GELAIN1

The student services officer

It is generally assumed that internationalisation is first and foremost a question of attracting foreign students and lecturers, promoting incoming and outgoing mobility at all levels and increasing the number of international partnerships and research networks. It is thus commonly associated with the activities typically carried out by the International Relations Office, it is seldom thought to relate to the Student Services Office. Similarly, one of the main strategies adopted to foster internationalisation, i.e. the use of English as a medium of instruction (EMI), is normally thought to affect learners and academic staff rather than non-teaching staff. As a consequence, working at the Student Services Office may appear to have little, if anything, to do with internationalisation and no relationship whatsoever with EMI; yet the challenges internationalisation poses and the repercussions EMI has over administrative procedures and student services, though frequently overlooked and seldom thought to deserve immediate attention, are manifold and certainly worth considering.

When in 2012 I started working as an administrative officer at the Student Services Office of the University of Padova, my job largely consisted in issuing Diploma Supplements, degree certificates and transcripts of records in English, which was due to the fact that, as a consequence of internationalisation, more and more students at, and ← 159 | 160 → graduates from, our University were travelling abroad for study, apprenticeship or employment purposes. At that time, however, most of the information about our...

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