Back “At UPF, in Catalan!”: the new campaign to promote the use of the Catalan language and linguistic rights at the University
“At UPF, in Catalan!”: the new campaign to promote the use of the Catalan language and linguistic rights at the University
The campaign aims to promote the use of Catalan as UPF’s official institutional language and raise awareness of the University’s linguistic rights, especially among first-year students, as well as the channels available for UPF to respond to complaints about their possible violation.
Coinciding with the start of the academic year, this year Pompeu Fabra University is launching the campaign “A la UPF, en català!” (At UPF, in Catalan!) with two aims in mind. First, to promote and normalize the use of Catalan as the University’s official language. Second, it aims to make students and the university community as a whole aware of their language rights and the channels available for UPF to process and respond to complaints about their possible violation.
The campaign mainly targets first-year students, so that they can learn about their linguistic rights from the moment they enter the University, and students and teaching staff from a variety of backgrounds, who can also choose from UPF’s wide range of Catalan courses. As a Catalan university open to the world, there is a large number of international students at UPF, especially doing master’s and doctoral degree studies, where they account for 47% of the total, and a quarter of the University’s faculty also comes from abroad.
Subjects must be taught in the language published in the teaching plan
One of the main themes of the campaign is to raise awareness of the so-called principle of linguistic security. This principle establishes that each subject must be taught in the language stipulated in the teaching plan. This document must be accessible to students before the enrolment period and is binding on the teaching staff, who in accordance with this plan, cannot change the language in which the subject is to be taught.
Moreover, students’ language rights provide that they may express themselves orally or in writing in Catalan, Spanish or English, in the latter case, by prior arrangement with the teacher, regardless of the language in which each subject is taught. The only exceptions are subjects with a specific linguistic profile, for example the ones where knowledge of a specific language is evaluated. Teaching and Research Staff (PDI) may also express themselves in any of the three languages mentioned, except for the language in which each subject is taught, which must always be the one stipulated in the teaching plan.
Who should you address in the event of a possible violation of language rights?
UPF has several channels for receiving and responding to complaints from any member of the university community concerning alleged violations of language rights. If the complaints are related to the teaching activity language of instruction, they can be processed in two ways: preferably online via the User Support Centre (CAU) (Student academic assistance > Languages of instruction); or by writing to the dean or director of the corresponding studies. If the complaints are related to other areas of the university - not teaching - they must be addressed by means of a general electronic application to the UPF rector’s office or to the commissioner for Language Policy.
UPF’s own campaign on language rights reinforcing the one by the Government of Catalonia
This is the first year that UPF has implemented its own campaign to disseminate and raise awareness of language rights among the university community, complementing the one being carried out by the Government of Catalonia. This year, the Catalan government’s campaign has the slogan “No et tallis” Els drets lingüístics a la universitat” (Don’t hold back! Linguistic rights at university).
The regulatory framework for linguistic rights at UPF and in Catalonia
For many years, the regulatory framework of UPF and of the Catalan university system has already included several measures to protect linguistic rights and promote the use of Catalan.
In this regard, the protection of linguistic rights has recently been reinforced by the Plan to strengthen the Catalan language in the university and research system of Catalonia, approved by the Interuniversity Council of Catalonia in 2022. Among other issues, the plan establishes that universities must provide information on and disseminate language rights among the student body, through specific campaigns or other means; and that they must make known to students the existence of mailboxes or similar communication channels concerning language rights and usage.
In respect of UPF's own regulatory framework, it should be noted that the University’s Plan of Action for Multilingualism (2007) includes the principle of linguistic security and defines Catalan as the University’s official institutional language. Spanish is co-official and English enjoys the status of working language. In addition, the Regulation and promotion of the use of Catalan at UPF (2000) establishes that any member of the university community who feels that their linguistic rights have been affected may lodge their complaints via the channels set out above.
UPF also has a commissioner for Language Policy. Among other issues, the commissioner is responsible for: defining the University’s general criteria concerning language; determining the use of Catalan in a multilingual environment; offering advice on this matter; defining language training for teaching and research staff and students; and promoting various actions to promote the Catalan language, culture and other sociocultural aspects.