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India: alarm raised over sub-par English centres

English coaching centres in some Indian provinces are intentionally setting students up to fail formal English tests to create repeat business – these are the sensational claims being made by an Australian education expert, who says the ramifications for the wider industry are dire.

Indian students are being set up to fail to increase the bottom line of some English centres. Photo: Ishant Mishra/UnsplashIndian students are being set up to fail to increase the bottom line of some English centres. Photo: Ishant Mishra/Unsplash

Bielik said there was a business model for centres to push through students

“It is systemic, and it is absolutely appalling”

In an interview with The PIE News, Burst Learning chief executive Danny Bielik warned international students to be wary of an increasing number of under-skilled practitioners setting up English centres in India to take advantage of the lucrative $2 billion market.

“You drive through the towns, and you see poster after poster and centre after centre for all these coaching services,” he said.

“Their business model is to help people fail. Their business model is to charge people $200 or $300 or $400 for weeks of instruction, but that instruction is just watching YouTube videos and reading from photocopied, pirated notes.”

According to Bielik, whose company offers online English preparation, some centres in India have also looked to provide fast instruction aimed at passing formal English tests without language comprehension, a development that could have significant consequences for destination countries.

“It is systemic, and it is absolutely appalling… and the way somebody needs to be able to enrol and get into their course of study in a foreign country is it takes many, many months of preparation and this is a key element of it.”

Bielik said there was a business model for centres to push through students, and increasing reliability on international students had also made providers vulnerable to accepting students without the English proficiency needed to succeed at their studies.

“The pressure has been on marketing departments in universities… for many years to pump numbers and particularly where you see declining numbers of domestic students,” he claimed.

Concerns of sub-standard English language proficiency have persisted in Australia recently after the National Tertiary Education Union called for tighter entry requirements or additional support for international students.

In early June, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency told The PIE it would increase scrutiny of English language requirements.

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