Letter: Foreign students

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I would take issue with the idea that overseas students are regularly enrolled into UK institutions with insufficient English language skills .

The International English Language Testing Service (IELTS), designed and developed by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate and delivered worldwide by the British Council and IDP Australia, is the recognised benchmark and, as such, is used by most British higher education institutions to ensure that overseas students have the necessary skills to enroll on the course of their choice.

Over the last decade as many as 133 "access courses" have been developed to bring overseas students' English language and academic skills up to the level of entry into degree courses. These courses are run by universities, colleges of further education and private providers and are also developed overseas by local education institutions.

Entry to these "access" courses is, of course, open to those with a much lower range of English and academic skills, offering the overseas student the best possible chance to gain the needed skills in both English and academic subjects.

Although it cannot be guaranteed that all 210,000 overseas students start their courses with the requisite English language skills, the majority do.

It is essential for the future of the business of overseas students that the reality and the expectation of academic quality is rigorously maintained, and our experience is that universities know and understand this.



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