Barriers to student entry removed by university

Date: Feb 27, 2012

A leading tertiary institution in New South Wales has moved to reduce the barriers to entry faced by some international students wishing to travel overseas.

The University of Sydney has recently announced that it is lowering some of its entrance standards in an effort to boost enrolments.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald on February 23, the acting dean of the institution's business school - professor Tyrone Carlin - explained that applications would be accepted from students who had achieved high scores in the GaoKao China National Education Entrance Examination.

Professor Carlin told the Fairfax publication: "Many of the top students - if they weren't exercising their right to go to one of China's top institutions - they were often going to the US or other jurisdictions where there was a direct admissions pathway for exceptional students.

"The academic board of the university has taken a view that it would be sensible and appropriate to open a pathway to these students."

The action taken by the University of Sydney means that talented students who have proved themselves in the recognised framework and who are in possession of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) result of 6.5 or above will now be able to access a streamlined admissions path.

This avenue effectively bypasses the need to undergo foundation studies and testing - however, the services of a migration lawyer can still help students to ensure their visa paperwork is in order before it is submitted.

While this decision may be able to produce the increase in international enrolments sought by the university, it has not been met with approval on all sides.

In a report issued by the Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) in January, experts conducted a review of the English requirements in place at the Sydney institution.

It recommended that several changes were needed to existing policies in order for the visiting students to get the most out of their time in Australia, while also contributing to the quality of the educational experience provided to their national colleagues.

The report stated: "Evidence from interviews indicates that English language proficiency remains an issue for international students studying at the University of Sydney.

"Despite their acceptable IELTS scores, there are still international students who struggle with the types of communication skills needed to give oral presentations."

The authors also suggested that additional measures could be undertaken to support the development of so-called "soft skills" used in delivering oral and multi-media presentations and that "communication practice need improvement".