'High level of English is mandatory' for all students: SCU
SOUTHERN Cross University has refuted claims it was waiving English criteria in order to enrol more international students.
The claims were made on the ABC's Four Corners program this week.
The report focused on elements of international education in Australia universities and suggested SCU was among universities including Murdoch and University of Tasmania "advertising” English waivers to increase enrolments of foreign students to essentially make more money.
The report claimed Australia's student visa system went under a major overhaul in 2016, simplifying the process and giving universities the power to assess the suitability of students before they were granted visas.
It revealed under the new system, universities could waive their own English entry standards and accept students who haven't taken an independent English test.
SCU Lismore campus Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Adam Shoemaker, said the claim was "categorically untrue”.
"A high level of English proficiency is a mandatory requirement for entry into all of our degrees,” Prof Shoemaker said.
"We do not know where that erroneous statement came from nor who made it.
"The only variation on English-language levels allowed are those specified in our regulations and these are administered at arm's length by our Academic Board.
"All of our staff and students can be assured we are resolute in our support for international students. Southern Cross University has 4084 international students, out of almost 19,000 overall.
"The stronger the international education system, the better chances of success for all.
"As soon as we become aware of any issues pertaining to academic standards or quality we address them immediately.
"And we are renowned for our support for overseas students, being ranked best in Australia through the International Student Barometer (ISB).”
Prof Shoemaker said the Lismore campus had seen international student numbers grow to about 20 per cent of the total student population over the past year.
"With that growth has come a small increase in study-related appeals from international students which have gone to the Student Misconduct Appeals Committee of Academic Board,” he said.
"But even though we are still only dealing with very small numbers of appeals, any change is concerning for us.
"Our Lismore and Coffs Harbour campuses have comparatively low levels of international students (8 per cent and 3 percent respectively) and it is absolutely imperative that we continue to attract overseas students to all parts of Australia and regional areas in particular.
"The growth of international education in regional Australia is critical for the integrated cultural wellbeing of our communities, as well as for economic and social reasons.”
He said SCU was continuing to put measures in place to maximise our international students' opportunities for academic and personal success, which included:
- Academic skills and support sessions
- Pre-departure briefings
- The most comprehensive orientation program in Australia
- Water safety, swimming and surf awareness
- Support for car-pooling and car parking
- A dedicated International student support team
- A team of 70 International Ambassadors.