Language policy and language choice at European universities. Is there really a ‘choice’?

European Journal of Applied Linguistics

Internationalization has become a sort of mantra in higher education. European universities strive to foster the internationalization process in which English as the current lingua franca and English-medium instruction play a paramount role. This paper examines the effect of internationalization on language policies and the degree of freedom universities enjoy when it comes to making their own decisions. The analysis is carried out at four different levels: the macro level (European institutions’ initiatives), the meso level (at the state level), the micro level (at university level) and the nano level (personified by the university stakeholders). Taking Spolsky’s (2004) language policy definition as a framework, the example of one particular multilingual higher education institution, namely the University of the Basque Country in Spain, will be under scrutiny in order to examine the impact of language policy and its three main components (language ideologies, language practices and language management) on the different university bodies.