Did you know that in 2016 Macquarie University developed a Principles of English Language Statement? It was a brief statement to explicitly note that the medium of instruction was English, and that the standard minimum entry requirement was IELTS 6.5.

2016 Statement

The standard language of instruction for all programs at Macquarie University will be English. Exceptions for special purposes may be granted via Academic Senate approval.

Faculties, Centres and the University will propose English language competence requirements for entry into each program they own. The standard minimum expectation will normally be IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. Exceptions will be reported to Academic Senate via the Academic Standards and Quality Committee.

Updating the Statement

One year on, faculties and MUIC were asked to reflect on the impact of the statement and to comment on related matters via the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee (SLTC).

It was suggested that an English Language Working Group should be convened to re-consider the wording of the statement. I was pleased to be asked to Chair the Working Group as English language proficiency in higher education is a professional passion of mine. The Working Group comprised members from each faculty and major office, and we met multiple times between November 2018 and February 2019.

The Terms of Reference required us to redraft the statement in light of faculty feedback, and to align it with the 2018 work of ASQC around the more streamlined IELTS entry requirements. The new statement (see below) was endorsed by ASQC, and approved by Academic Senate on 9 April 2019.

Other work by the Working Party included an audit of all resources across the University for supporting English language development (watch this space! … coming soon) and recommendations about next steps.

How is the 2019 Statement different?

The Working Party re-worded the Principles of English Language Statement to acknowledge the following:

  • The linguistic diversity of our student body and staff
  • The need for ongoing English language development during university studies
  • The current approved minimum English language entry requirements for degrees and sub-bachelor programs (i.e. Foundation Program; Diploma)
  • The process for proposing and approving English entry standards.

The updated statement makes it explicit that improving English language is everyone’s business, differentiated by role, and that there are expectations of improved language proficiency by graduation. This work is consistent with other work occurring around the University in relation to the Student Success Strategic Framework. It also draws heavily on the literature and the English language standards for higher education [pdf] (see also Arkoudis et al., 2012).

Revised 2019 Statement

Macquarie University values linguistic diversity, and acknowledges the first and additional languages of students and staff as enriching our community.

Given that the standard language of instruction at Macquarie University is English, the University is committed to supporting the development of students’ English language proficiency as an integral part of their journey towards academic and professional success [1].  Students are also responsible for continuing to develop their English through active engagement in their studies and the wider community.

The minimum English entry requirement for degree courses is Academic IELTS 6.5 (no subscore below 6.0) or an equivalent recognized by the University.

The minimum English entry requirements for Macquarie University International College are:

  • Academic IELTS 6.0 (no subscore below 5.5) or equivalent for Diploma courses and the Intensive Program
  • Academic IELTS 5.5 (no subscore below 5.0) or equivalent for the Standard Foundation Program

Courses that have higher English entry requirements approved by Academic Senate are listed in the Handbook.

Course authorities propose English language requirements for each course that they steward for approval by Academic Senate via the Academic Standards and Quality Committee. Exceptions to the language of instruction for special purposes may be approved by Academic Senate.

English Language Working Party members

  • Chair: Pamela Humphreys
  • Secretary: Joshua Dymock
  • Dominique Parrish
  • Leonie Tickle
  • Jen McPherson
  • Marizio Manuguerra
  • Jane Messer
  • Lilia Draganov
  • Jason Ray
  • Peter Roger
  • Tessa Green

References Arkoudis, S., Baik, C., & Richardson, S. (2012). English Language Standards in Higher Education: From entry to exit. ACER.

[1] Student Success Strategic Framework

Posted by Pamela Humphreys

I am the Director of MUIC and the ELC. I am passionate about supporting students with English as an Additional Language (EAL) on their journey to - and through - their university studies.

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