English entrance requirements and language support for international postgraduate students

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Enhancing Higher Education, Theory and Scholarship Vol. 30

July, 2007, 651 pages
Published by
Geoffrey Crisp & Margaret Hicks
ISBN
0 908557 72 8
Abstract 

Concerns have recently been raised about international student graduates’ English language proficiency (Birrell, 2006). There have thus been calls for an increase in the required IELTS scores for students entering Australian universities. In this paper, I examine the validity of IELTS as an accurate predictor of academic success in postgraduate research degree contexts. I outline the literature which questions whether IELTS scores can accurately predict academic performance in the general student cohort. I then examine the IELTS writing and speaking examination tasks and evaluation procedures in relation to the literature on postgraduate research communication as well as the attributes and skills expected of postgraduate research students. I argue that raising the IELTS score would not necessarily result in greater academic success or improved written or spoken research communication in English after graduation. I therefore propose disciplinarily embedded research communication support in order to further develop international students' English research communication during their postgraduate research degree.

Keywords: Internationalisation, English standards, postgraduate study

English entrance requirements and language support for international postgraduate students

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Picard, M.