Jenny Weight, the Program Manager at RMIT University, says she recently resigned from her job as an academician because she could no longer stand how Australian universities handled international students.
Ms Weight says she has witnessed firsthand the suffering of international students for years, but her attempts to mitigate the problem were “stymied at every turn”.
She says students who qualify for a university course with a 6.5 band score in EILTS still struggle to comprehend subjects of a technical or sophisticated nature. They end up spending long hours reading and tend to lag behind in debates. Their inability to keep up with a conversation in English leaves them too ashamed to contribute much in class.
Ms Weight says her efforts to bring the plight of these students to the attention of the institutions, has only elicited half-hearted responses.
“I spoke to everybody. I ran out of people I could talk to who was relevant to the issue. I was told this was being discussed in meetings, but I was never invited to those meetings,” she told SBS Punjabi.
She believes the 6.5 band IELTS entry score for university admission is “insufficient”, but she’s sure this score won’t be raised even though it is, in her opinion, the most obvious solution to the problem. She also does not think the universities should admit students for courses which they don’t qualify. Speaking to SBS Punjabi, she said:
“It’s (the reason) mainly financial. Universities accrue massive income from international students. If they were to raise English requirements for their courses, they would reduce the number of international students who qualify for these courses. So, they keep the criteria at the lowest possible level. Universities today have become money-making corporatised entities … they shop for students in a competitive way”.
Although she acknowledges that the university does offer extracurricular English classes, she feels the students are usually so overloaded with coursework that they can’t take up any more studies.
In its response, RMIT University says it has dedicated staff who spend a significant amount of time, effort and material resources in “giving international students the best education and the best experience that we can offer. We are always striving to raise the bar.”
RMIT also says students seeking admission must meet stringent English language requirements for entry, which are equal to, and sometimes higher, than the standards set in other institutions in the sector.
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