By John Read (auth.)
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Additional info for Assessing English Proficiency for University Study
The other powerful linguistic force is the rapidly spreading role of English as a lingua franca in Europe, both in the academic world and in European society more generally. It is by far the most commonly studied foreign language in the region and its obvious utility in a whole range of domains of international communication creates a strong motivation to learn it. The expansion of English-medium degree programmes in European universities can be traced to a number of inter-related influences (Coleman 2006, Wilkinson 2008): • Government policies favouring more commercial models of university management, including the marketing of the institution as a brand to students as quasi-customers.
Obviously, the requirements are higher in the private university sector, where English is the medium of instruction. Students seeking direct entry to undergraduate study in private universities and colleges typically need a high grade in English in the Malaysian secondary school exams, a matriculation qualification obtained through Englishmedium study such as the Cambridge A-Levels or the International Baccalaureate, or a minimum score in a proficiency test like IELTS or TOEFL. Alternatively, the private institutions offer a range of foundation, bridging, and pre-university programmes for prospective students who need to improve their proficiency in English.
However, the voluntary nature of the assessment meant that student uptake of this recommendation was limited. While participation in DELA increased from 554 students in 2003 to a high of 786 students in 2006, it soon tapered off again. These numbers represented only a small proportion of EAL enrolments at the University, and there were concerns that those who might have benefited most from English language development were not presenting themselves for the assessment. Concerns about the efficacy of the voluntary assessment policy coincided with intense discussion within the higher education sector more broadly, following an influential report by Birrell (2006) reporting on low levels of proficiency amongst international students graduating from Australian universities.
Assessing English Proficiency for University Study by John Read (auth.)