English language standards crackdown commended at CSU

Charles Sturt Univeristy has praised a proposed crackdown on international students’ English language skills, across the tertiary education sector.

It follows Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s announcement on Thursday, outlining the Federal Government’s plan to address language barriers across Australian universities. 

At present, many students attend English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students, but they are not required to reach a set standard. 

In an interview with ABC Radio, Minister Birmingham said there were a number of “anecdotal instances ... of students not being able to fully participate in group work or struggling through the class work”.

He told the media, students from overseas would have to complete at least 20-hours intensive face-to-face training as of next year. 

Amid a number of other regulations, CSU pro-vice chancellor of global engagement Heather Cavanagh said international students applying to study in Australia would need to prove sufficient language skills before being officially admitted into the course. 

The plan is set to impact the countries’ 150,000 intakes from January 2018. 

With more than 6500 international students across CSU – about 120 at its Wagga campus – professor Cavanagh said the crackdown would hardly affect CSU.

“We already insist on accepting students who have been taught their language skills from good-reputation providers,” Professor Cavanagh said. 

“Good providers already meet those minimum requirements.” 

She said the university believed the impact of the change would ultimately be beneficial. 

Professor Cavanagh said language barriers could also affect teachers, coordinators and fellow students within a course. 

“At the moment we are cautious about where we accept students who have learned English outside Australia,” she said. 

“These tighter regulations will give us reassurance.”

Professor Cavanagh said regulations would guarantee students’ success and a positive experience. 

“It does make it slightly harder for some, but at the end of the day, if they are a good student, they are more likely to succeed,” she said. 

“We don’t want to set (students) up to fail.”