Foreign stu­dents in­ept in English

> Some have good scores on pa­per, but can­not an­swer oral ques­tions

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

PETALING JAYA: Foreign stu­dents with­out ba­sic knowl­edge of English have been ac­cepted into in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing, re­sult­ing in high drop-out rates that leads them into the job mar­ket.

Many present doc­u­ments cer­ti­fy­ing they are pro­fi­cient in the lan­guage, but in re­al­ity, the sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent.

Com­ing from coun­tries where such cer­ti­fi­ca­tion can be bought on the streets, these stu­dents use them merely to en­ter the coun­try, and join the labour mar­ket.

Malaysian Qual­i­fi­ca­tion Agency (MQA) chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Datuk Ru­jhan Mustafa said MQA is aware about the prac­tice but is un­able to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion.

“We found so many stu­dents who are poor in English, and we don’t know how they are go­ing to do the course.

“Our job is to set the stan­dards. It is up to the col­leges to only ac­cept stu­dents who meet such stan­dards,” he said.

Ru­jhan said dur­ing one their checks, MQA found stu­dents en­rolled for post-grad­u­ate courses were un­able to an­swer ques­tions posed by the in­spec­tors.

“Maybe they are like the Ja­panese. They are ex­perts in their field but prob­a­bly fall short in com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills,” he said.

“They have good results in their tests, but when it comes to com­mu­ni­ca­tions ... we don’t know.”

It is learnt that many in­ter­na­tional stu­dents who had been ac­cepted into lo­cal higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes have a be­lowa­v­er­age com­mand in English, de­spite hav­ing im­pres­sive scores on pa­per.

Doc­tors who ex­am­ine stu­dents who have to un­dergo manda­tory post-ar­rival med­i­cal screen­ings have also raised this is­sue.

Many of them, one doctor told theSun, can’t even tick the proper boxes of their med­i­cal his­tory.

The prob­lem seems to arise across the board, in both es­tab­lished in­sti­tutes and less-known ones.

How does the Ed­u­ca­tion Malaysia Global Ser­vices (EMGS), an agency man­dated by the gov­ern­ment to process stu­dent visas ad­dress this prob­lem?

“EMGS looks at the gen­eral aca­demic re­quire­ments and most in­sti­tutes con­duct lan­guage pro­fi­ciency tests prior to of­fer­ing the stu­dents a place,” said its head of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Brand­ing, Anita Daud Charles.

She said the in­sti­tu­tion may also rec­om­mend in­ten­sive English pro­grammes to the stu­dents, if it sees the need.

“Ev­ery in­sti­tu­tion sets its own stan­dards which meet the re­quire­ments of MQA and the min­istry. They vary but when EMGS does aca­demic screen­ing, we check the cre­den­tials against the re­quire­ments for the spe­cific courses,” she added.

The English lan­guage re­quire­ments for foreign stu­dents are a min­i­mum score of 5.0 for the In­ter­na­tional English Lan­guage Test­ing Sys­tem and Test of English as a Foreign Lan­guage.

Other equiv­a­lent qual­i­fi­ca­tions such as Cam­bridge English: Ad­vanced and Cam­bridge English: Pro­fi­ciency and Pear­son Test of English are also ac­cept­able.

How­ever, na­tive speak­ers from coun­tries where English is the first lan­guage and those grad­u­at­ing from in­sti­tutes which use English as the medium of in­struc­tion are ex­empted.

Also ex­empted are grad­u­ates from lo­cal in­sti­tutes look­ing to con­tinue their stud­ies.

The min­istry aims to reach its tar­get of en­rolling over 200,000 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents by 2020, which is es­ti­mated to ben­e­fit the na­tion’s econ­omy by gen­er­at­ing an in­come of RM15.6 bil­lion.

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