Is it true that Indian students in Australia don’t know English?

“Some universities have been accepting Medium of Instruction (MOI) document which states that students have previously studied in English, instead of IELTS results,” says Ravi Lochan Singh, the president of the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India (AAERI).

Navi* has entered the second year of his postgraduate diploma in business management, but cannot string a single sentence in English.

The 24-year-old student from Punjab who doesn’t wish to be named told SBS Punjabi that he has been a ‘below average’ student all through his academic career and was surprised to find out that he had been accepted by a business school in Victoria.

After having spent one year Down Under, Navi* admitted that his confidence stems from the fact that he is not the only one.

“I’m not the only one who cannot speak in English and has yet managed to progress to next year,” Navi* said.

“There are six Punjabi students in my batch that I know of and I can tell you for sure that none of them can speak or write fluently in English. The mantra is to stay silent in the classroom.”

“But, hey, I can understand English,” he is quick to add.

IELTS exam

On the face of it, Navi and the fellow Punjabi students in his batch represent a category of students who formally enrolled into Australian universities, but perhaps lack the English language proficiency needed to get through.

This was brought to the fore by a recent investigation conducted by ABC’s Four Corners program, which claimed that some of Australia’s universities have been waiving their English entry standards to accommodate higher fee-paying international students.

The probe further claimed that the trend is ‘undermining’ the country’s higher education system as many foreign students – particularly from Punjab – lack the requisite language skills and are thus unable to participate in class or complete their assignments ‘legitimately.’

Ravi Lochan Singh, the president of the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India (AAERI) disclosed that there is a massive ‘loophole’ in the selection criteria. 

He claimed that some streamlined universities have been granting admission to students from India without asking them to take an independent English test such as IELTS or TOEFL as stipulated by the Department of Home Affairs.

“Some universities have been accepting Medium of Instruction (MOI) document which states that students have previously studied in English, instead of IELTS results,” Mr Singh said.

“And those who can provide this document, which is very easy to obtain in India, are straight away issued a Confirmation of Enrollment (CoE),” he added.

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