Australia to Introduce Tough English Tests for Foreign Students

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Foreign students who plan to study at Australian universities and colleges will be required to take tough new English tests from next year.

The new language requirements

More than 150,000 international students who come to Australia every year will have to pass exams before they can begin their preferred courses. The crackdown is driven by concerns that many are gaining entry to Australian universities with inadequate English language skills.

The candidates have to undergo at least 20 hours of face-to-face teaching a week in intensive courses designed for non-English speakers who want to study in Australia. The proficiency students will have to demonstrate will vary from basic knowledge of the alphabet and ability to put together a sentence to more advanced levels such as academic writing, depending on the course they are seeking to enter.

Benefits for international and local students

Australian Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the overseas students who had poor English skills were disadvantaging themselves and their Australian classmates. He said:

What we hear from universities, vocational education providers and from the regulator is that some students are slipping through the cracks. Some students simply don’t have the English language skills they need to succeed. It means they draw away from getting involved in lectures, tutorials, and group study work while their classmates and teachers struggle to bridge the language divide.

Mr. Birmingham told the Australian International Education Conference in Hobart on Wednesday that the situation is not fair to the international or Australian students or their teachers. Last year, Victoria, Australia’s most densely-populated state, welcomed 42,500 international students who had to complete some English training, including 15,000 from China, 4,000 from Colombia, 3,000 from Thailand, and 2,000 from India. Two-thirds of these students were on student visas and more than 60% of them went on to higher education or vocational courses.

Participate, contribute and learn

The intensive English courses will now face stricter standards to ensure all students get enough time with teachers, who will have no more than 18 students per class. Currently, students can begin their studies without proof they have met English requirements. Under the government crackdown, providers of the courses – which will take an average of 13 weeks to complete – will now have to formally assess students before they are admitted to further studies.

Mr. Birmingham said:

This is about ensuring students have the English language skills they need to participate, contribute and learn. It’s clear we need more scrutiny in the system.

Sources: Herald Sun, the Daily Telegraph

Valentin Vassilev

About Valentin Vassilev

Valentin Vassilev has a Master’s degree in International Media Studies from Deutsche Welle Akademie and the University of Bonn as well as a Bachelor's degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Veliko Tarnovo. He has a background in business journalism, having written about European political, economic and business issues. Valentin is currently a content writer and editor at business education services provider Advent Group.

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