More than one-third of foreign students graduating from Australian universities, mainly Asians, have such poor linglish skills they should never have been admitted, research showed A study by demographer Bob Birrell found that more than 50 percent of-Soufh Korean, and 'fhai students did not have sufficient English to work professionally in Australia, along with more than 43 percent of Chinese graduates. Some 5 1? percent of studentsâ– from Singapore and India, where English is more widely spoken, also failed to reach the
required level. Overall, 34 percent of the graduating foreign students offered permanent residence visas in 2006 did not have competent English.
13h'rell ofMelbourne’s Monash University, said almost all the 12.000 graduates tested for fire survey were from Asia because these students are the most likely to apply for permanent residency on completing their studies. 10 However, he said that he believed the study to be representative of all foreign students, partly because Asia was a major source of fee-paying overseas students for Australian universities. ‘It docs raise questions about university standards,’ Birrell told AFP. d'ertiary institutions are reliant on international students because they proyide 15 percent of funding, leading to suggestions that academic standards are sacrificed in favor of financial rewards.
Education Minister Julie iBishop described the survey as “an extraordinary attack by Professor Birrell on our 15 Ø› ' ‘International students must meet international be^hrnarks in language in order to get a place in a
university in Australia,’ she said 'Ø›'he study found all graduates tested had enough command of the language to cope in most situations. ‘But people who have reached this standard are still not capable of conducting a sophisticated discourse at the professional level.’ it said.
In his said there wasra “mountain of anecdotal material” that many overseas studebts struggle
20 to meet their course requirements and that universities cope by lowering the English demands of the courses, ‘'fhere is widening reeognifion of the English problem,’ he said. ‘But universities were hesitant to make students take extra language courses because this would make them more expensive and therefore less attractive than rival institutions,’ he said. I'lowever, Professor Gerard Sutton, the president of the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee, said most foreign students would be proficient in reading, writing and listening to linglish. ‘What 1 think has been highlighted is a deficiency in spoken language,’ he told AFP, adding that a deficiency in this area wbuld not prevent them feom completing a university eourse.
The respondents of the survey were