Language Diversity

and National Languages

in Higher Education

Fran Ramovš Institute of the Slovenian Language,

the Scientific Research Centre of the SASA










Over 60 languages are spoken in the European Union. Language diversity is very visible in Europe, but not unique in the world. Most of about that 60 languages have acquired the status of a cultural language that can be used in all domains of discourse in a modern society.  At least half of the European languages are used in the scientific and technical domains and called ‘scientific languages’. They are used in communicating and transferring knowledge, e.g. in higher education.


The EU expression Unity in Diversity refers to this bouquet of modern cultural languages, complemented by the capability of many Europeans to speak two, three or more languages. The founders of the EU proclaimed in 1957 that:


The EU shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore.


The European language system functioned well throughout the 20th century and still functions smoothly in most EU countries. Then, towards the end of the 20th century a movement started to reform higher education in Europe. Internationalisation and globalisation were keywords of this reform wave. Some powerful groups wanted to promote English as the international language of science and higher education, eventually duplicating and replacing national languages. In 2009, the number of English-taught higher education programmes in Europe is 35 % of the total, but the trend is upward and the distribution differs: in the North some countries show percentages of 25 %, in the South and East percentages are small. All countries report a mild to serious pressure of English however.


It is the ambition of the Ljubljana conference to be a forum for civil society to analyse these developments and their impact: culturally, linguistically, socially, legally and politically. And to discuss what needs to be changed in our education and science communication systems to prevent that Unity overwhelms Diversity.


Objectives of the conference

Call for papers


Conference Programme

Organising Committee

Programme Committee


Getting to Ljubljana



Info for Presenters




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