The Turnbull government will begin testing international university students on the strength of their English skills from next year, in hopes of setting a very high “benchmark of assessment”.
Speaking ahead of the education conference in Hobart, Education Minister Simon Birmingham told reporters on Thursday that new language exams would be introduced from 2018.
“Under the Turnbull Government’s reforms, students who complete one of those English language courses will also have to be assessed at the end of that to prove and guarantee they have the English skills to go on and succeed at university, TAFE, or other educational institutions,” he said.
Senator Birmingham said strong English skills were “essential” for the experience of international students and Australian students alike.
“Australian students benefit from the international education because of the richness and cultural experience and diversity of engagement they get from studying alongside international students,” he added.
“But both Australian and international students deserve to know that everybody in a classroom, a lecture theatre, or a group work scenario can fully participate in the learning experience, can fully contribute and to do that requires good English language skills.
“That’s what we’re guaranteeing today: a further step of safeguarding and protecting our good reputation and standing as an international education provider, a further step to ensure that Australia continues to be a destination of choice for students from around the world.”
Senator Birmingham said enforcement of the new policy would be undertaken through national regulator, the TEQSA – Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency – and TEQSA would be able to “better ensure those English language providers are meeting the requisite benchmarks”.