Within three years foreign academics at KU Leuven are required to attain B2 level Dutch in return for a permanent appointment. The requirement is not excessive. Flemish secondary school pupils have to attain B1 levels in French and English - one step higher - by the time they leave secondary school. Still the threshold seems too high for foreign lecturers.
In conversation with student magazine Veto Prof Pollefeyt takes the example of a top microchips expert from India or China: "He moves here with his whole family and then, in addition to integrating and his research, he is supposed to acquire high level Dutch skills in a short spell of time. The facts show that this isn't met with success within 3 years, especially if you start from an oriental language."
The university is now asking the education minister to extend the timescale to five years.
Prof Pollefeyt: "Otherwise we will scare off top international experts from coming to lecture in Flanders. We notice that a number of people won't take the risk."
In addition to what are described as "non-competitive salaries" the language requirement is an additional obstacle faced by people trying to recruit leading experts to teach at Flemish universities.