New English standards for Overseas Students

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has announced that foreign students must upscale their English skills to study in Australian universities and colleges from next year. More than 150,000 international students who come to Australia every year will have to pass new English language exams and 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.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said that some overseas students who had poor English skills were found to be at a disadvantage.

“What we hear from universities, vocational education providers and from the regulator is that some students are slipping through the cracks,” Senator Birmingham said. This, however, could be improved through additional coaching.

Last year, Victoria welcomed 42,500 international students who had to complete some English training, including 15,000 from China, 4000 from Colombia, 3000 from Thailand and 2000 from India. Two-thirds of these students were on student visas and more than 60 per cent of them went on to higher education or vocational courses.

The intensive English courses will now face strict standards to ensure all students get enough time with teachers, who will have no more than 18 per class. Students must now show proof that they have met English requirements before they commence their studies.

Under the Turnbull 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.

“This is about ensuring students have the English language skills they need to participate, contribute and learn,” Senator Birmingham said.

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