Building Communication Bridges to Mitigate Language and Culture Barriers
Every university which exists in an environment where English is not the first language is going to encounter obstacles in communicating with its international students. While developing towards a polylingual solution might seem preferable, in reality universities choose a less costly decision — English in addition to the local language(s), since it is the de facto lingua franca of international education.
Nonetheless, specific challenges and ways to address international students greatly depend on how widespread the knowledge of English is in the country and university environment. For example, the Netherlands and Sweden have many natural opportunities for universities to recruit people who will not experience the language barrier with international students. However, many other countries, including Russia, have very different starting conditions: according to the 2010 census, only 5.3% of the Russian population indicated knowledge of English. Of course it calls for deliberate extra efforts aimed at developing information channels and English interface of university services.