U Tas to increase standards and support for international students

The University of Tasmania endorses recommendations for change on international student recruiting and teaching

Vice Chancellor Rufus Black tells the university community that recommendations in a new review suits its strategy switch from, “continuous growth in international student numbers to a future focused on sustainable growth.”

Where this comes from: Just hours before ABC’s Four Corners screened a report in May on universities admitting international students with inadequate English the University of Tasmania announced an external review of its admissions policies. As it turned the ABC had nothing much to say about UniTas but higher education governance expert Hilary Winchester finds there were problems.

Such as: “Many interviews and submissions said that in practice there is no effective learning and language support for the thousands of international students, and no mechanism for academic staff to refer students, even in their first semester or first year, for language support,” Professor Winchester reports.

And she advises the university admitted 36 per cent of international students under the Mode of Instruction rule, over half from China (ex Hong Kong). MOI assumes that previous study at an institution which uses English assures fluency.

But UniTas is on to it: Overall Professor Winchester points to examples of systems not up to speed and needed policies not up to date but they are nothing the university hasn’t or cannot fix. For a start MOI is already gone and – the university accepts all her 19 recommendations.

Specific changes she calls for include;

* requiring academic senate to approve all changes in course admissions

* lifting admission requirements on a course by-course basis, both undergraduate and postgraduate

* introducing targeted discipline-specific language courses

* reinstating a university admission committee, with governance and operational responsibilities


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