Birmingham spells out mandatory English language standards for international students

International students must prove their English is up to the standard required for study under new federal government regulations Education Minister Simon Birmingham will announce today.

“What we hear from universities, vocational education providers and from the regulator TEQSA is that some students are slipping through the cracks. Some students simply do not 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,” Senator Birmingham says.

The new standards will require ELICOS providers to formally assess students, rather than just mark them as having passed a course, which qualifies them to enrol in a tertiary programme. The government will also extend language requirements that now apply to higher education courses to VET. English language courses will also have a mandatory 20 contact study hours a week with a maximum student-teacher ratio of 18 to one. The requirements will provide evidence for TEQSA to assess provider performance.

“These new standards will give more students better skills that will set them up for further study and work in Australia. Our incredible success attracting international students to Australia is reliant on our reputation for quality education, which will be significantly strengthened by these changes,” the minister says.

There were 150 000 ELICOS students in the country last year, with 60 per cent of them moving onto HE and VET courses.


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