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TEQSA offers guidance after pathway concerns

Australia’s tertiary education regulator has issued a guidance note for both higher education and ELICOS providers in the wake of ongoing concerns over the English proficiency of international students using pathway programs to enter university.

The guidance note provides further clarity around the requirements of higher education and ELICOS providers. Photo: Unsplash/Kimberly FarmerThe guidance note provides further clarity around the requirements of higher education and ELICOS providers. Photo: Unsplash/Kimberly Farmer

TEQSA has ruled out dictating which English tests it will accept

“All available data shows that international students have higher success rates than their domestic colleagues”

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency’s ELICOS Direct Entry guidance note provides clarity on the expectations of providers in delivering and accepting English results from pathway courses.

“ELICOS courses form a significant part of Australia’s international education provision,” said TEQSA chief executive Anthony McClaran.

“With the ELICOS Standards 2018 recently released, TEQSA chose to work with industry partners, English Australia and NEAS, to issue guidance on how providers can meet relevant requirements.”

Among the changes, McClaran said the new requirement for the provider to put in place formal measures to ensure assessment outcomes of ELICOS courses were comparable to other entry criteria for tertiary education courses had created some confusion.

The guidance note comes after increased reports of substandard English among international students, with pathway programs coming under increased scrutiny over their ability to provide direct entry without the need to sit an internationally recognised test, such as IELTS, PTE or TOEFL.

McClaran said TEQSA would remain focussed on ensuring the ” integrity of Australia’s higher education sector and protecting student interests”.

“During TEQSA’s risk assessments, we look at how students at all providers are tracking, that is attrition and success rates,” he said

“All available data shows that international students have higher success rates than their domestic colleagues, which is an indicator that providers are not only admitting adequately prepared international students, but supporting them where needed.”

Speaking with The PIE News, he ruled out following New Zealand’s path and standardising English testing.

“TEQSA is of the view that there are a number of acceptable measures of testing a student’s English language skills,” McClaran said.

“However, if providers are using measures outside of IELTS to test a student’s English language skills, then we would expect to see how they have satisfied themselves that the results are comparable and valid.”

The number of ELICOS students in Australia is expected to surpass record levels for 2018.

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