Panjab University (PU) has made it mandatory for foreign students applying for enrolment in PhD programmes to clear English language proficiency test from academic session 2014-15.
The decision comes after faculty members observed that many foreign students find it difficult to converse with them and fellow students and lacked proficiency in English.
PU has nearly 130 foreign and non-resident Indian (NRI) students studying on the campus from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Thailand, Nigeria and other countries. But officials are hoping for increase in number of foreign students following PU hogging limelight after the Times Higher Education ranking, wherein it topped in the country.
As of now 63 students are enrolled in various PhD programmes, 28 studying in post-graduate courses and 49 of them enrolled in various under-graduate courses being offered on the campus.
So far, the 13-week English proficiency programme, run by the department of English and cultural studies, was optional for the foreign students. From this academic session, those PhD students found lacking proficiency in English and who have not studied English during their under-graduate and post-graduate courses will be recommended for the 13-week course by the admission committees of the respective departments. Students will be given provisional admissions till the time they clear the course.
PU also plans to make the course mandatory for foreign students applying for post-graduate and under- graduate courses as well in the coming years.
“The students being admitted should have a certain level of language proficiency. The move will help in attracting good students,” said Ramanjit Kaur Johal, dean, international students, PU.
The 13-week programme was started in 2008 to aid foreign students and others in improving their communication skills and proficiency in English, but has so far remained optional. While foreign students are imparted language skills free of cost, the course is paid for others.
“A special curriculum is already in place under the programme. Classes are run in the afternoon every day and students have to undertake one test at the beginning of the course and another one after its completion, which tell them about their skills in the language. We will have to deliberate upon modalities afresh for foreign PhD scholars after this move,” said Deepti Gupta, one of the faculty members associated with the course.
The course focuses on aiding students in improving listening, speaking, reading and writing skills and was designed and started during the tenure of Shelley Walia, the then dean, international students, and current dean, faculty of languages.