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UTAS review queries EMI as admissions entry route

Students admitted into the University of Tasmania through medium of instruction as evidence of English proficiency were more likely to have poorer academic performance or fail, an independent review has found.

AN external review of UTAS found the university was at risk of not complying with the higher education standards framework. Photo: Natallia Safonava/UnsplashAN external review of UTAS found the university was at risk of not complying with the higher education standards framework. Photo: Natallia Safonava/Unsplash

UTAS has accepted the majority of the review's recommendations

The ‘External Review of International Recruitment and Admissions Practices’, compiled by Hilary Winchester Consulting and prompted by May’s Four Corners report “Cash Cows“, also found 54% of UTAS’ international students were admitted through an “other form of testing which satisfies the institution”.

“Academic governance oversight has been weak”

“UTAS has experienced considerable international student growth from 2016,” the report said.

“The rapid growth has, however, brought into question admission standards especially in relation to English language proficiency and also the policy framework, support mechanisms and governance oversight for international students.”

According to the report, students who entered UTAS through an informal testing route, such as MOI, 2+2 arrangements or the university’s English Language Centre, had higher failure rates than other students.

Among its accompanying recommendations, the report urged ongoing restrictions of MOI for entry, which the university ceased immediately before the airing of the program in May. It also recommended the creation of discipline-specific language courses for UTAS’ ELC.

The review also found several instances in which UTAS appeared to have been non-compliant with Australia’s Higher Education Standards Framework, citing a lack of readily available information needed to undertake the review itself.

“Academic governance oversight has been weak, partly because appropriate reports have not been available,” the report said.

“In undertaking this external review, the reviewers requested standard reports of performance by cohort and by admission category. The university was initially unable to supply such reports as they were not standard and had not been regularly produced.”

All but two of the 19 recommendations included in the report were accepted by UTAS, noting one was already in place, and the other was outside the scope of the review adding it would nevertheless refer the recommendation to the vice-chancellor.

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