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PATHWAYS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

  1. ELICOS
  2. TYPES OF ELICOS CENTER
  3. TYPES OF COURSES
    1. GENERAL ENGLISH
    2. ENGLISH FOR ACADEMIC PURPOSES (EAP)
    3. SECONDARY SCHOOL PREPARATION
    4. EXAMINATION PREPARATION
    5. ENGLISH FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES
  4. ENGLISH LANGUAGE TESTS
  5. ENTRY POINTS
  6. COST OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE COURSES
  7. QUALITY ASSURANCE OF ELICOS
  1. FOUNDATION PROGRAMS
  • DIPLOMA PROGRAMS

OTHER BRIDGING COURSES

PATHWAYS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

International students who arrive in Australia to study may begin at any level of the system. However, their academic or English proficiency may not match the level that they wish to enter. So, there are specific pathway programs for international students to eventually reach the level they want to study at. These programs have a variety of names but they all provide entry into another course of a higher level.

There are four types of pathway programs that are designed for and are popular with international students:

PATHWAY PROGRAM

PURPOSE

English language courses (ELICOS) - see A.4

As a route to all levels of qualifications on the AQF

Foundation Programs

As a route to undergraduate and VET courses

Diploma Programs

As a route to undergraduate courses

Other Bridging Courses

As a route to all levels of qualifications on the AQF

  1. ELICOS

The English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sector is an important one within the Australian Education system. In November 2017, there were 152,606 international student enrolments in the ELICOS sector. The ELICOS provides international students with a wide variety of options to learn English and enables students to enter other education sectors at all levels.English language training is also very often the first type of course an international student may undertake in Australia. So, ELICOS colleges have well-developed reception, orientation and accommodation placement processes to reflect this fact. ELICOS courses can be taken by students as stand-alone courses. This means that the student wishes to improve their English proficiency and then return to their home country. According to EA's statistics, 39% use the language course as the first in a pathway of courses leading to formal qualifications in the other sectors.

  1. TYPES OF ELICOS CENTER

There are about 300 accredited ELICOS centres across Australia. There are many types of centres and they can be:

  • located in all of Australia's major cities as well as in a range of regional locations,
  • private or government operated,
  • independent or attached to a high school, TAFE college or university,
  • small boutique colleges or large international providers.
  1. TYPES OF COURSES

ELICOS providers and courses need to follow a careful quality assurance process. This specifies the minimum qualifications of teachers, class sizes, types of facilities, and the number of study hours per week.

ELICOS courses are accredited by either TEQSA or ASQA as non-award courses outside of the AQF. However, a small number of courses are accredited as VET courses on the AQF. Australia offers a wide range of ELICOS courses designed to meet the varying needs of students with different reasons for learning English. Full-time ELICOS courses tend to have these features:

  • Their duration generally ranges from four to 48 weeks,
  • They are taught at all levels of proficiency from beginners to advanced.
  • They comprise of at least 20 hours of study each week.
  • They usually have flexible commencement dates, so students can enroll at any time during the year.

There are five major categories of English language courses generally offered in Australia to international students:

  1. General English
  2. English for Academic Purposes (EAP)
  3. Secondary School Preparation
  4. Examination Preparation
  5. English for Specific Purposes (ESP)
  1. GENERAL ENGLISH

These courses help to improve English skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking. Students can enter at any level, from elementary to advanced, and they progress at their own pace.

  1. ENGLISH FOR ACADEMIC PURPOSES (EAP)

EAP courses are designed to help students succeed in university studies by improving their English and academic study skills. They help students achieve the level of English language proficiency needed to undertake tertiary studies at Australian and International universities.
EAP programs are generally offered as full-time courses of approximately 10 weeks for each module. EAP courses generally start and finish at dates which match with the university's academic semesters. This allows students to move easily into formal degree courses.

  1. SECONDARY SCHOOL PREPARATION

These programs are generally designed to:

  • develop speaking, listening, reading and writing skills,
  • inform students about the education system in Australia,
  • familiarise students with teaching methodologies they will encounter in their secondary studies,
  • introduce specific subject areas and assist with subject selection.
  1. EXAMINATION PREPARATION

many English courses focus on preparing students for external English proficiency examinations such as:

  • Cambridge exams (PET, FCE, CAE, CPE, & BEC), which are the most popular,
  • the IELTS exam,
  • the TOEFL exam,
  • the TOEIC test.

These courses are generally provided for students aged 17 and above and involve intensive test practice. They cater to people who wish to:

  • enter educational institutions,
  • work in English-speaking countries,
  • obtain a qualification that is valued by employers in their home country.
  1. ENGLISH FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES

These courses are generally specialised to meet a specific student need for technical English proficiency. They are often designed specifically for a small student group with similar needs. This category also includes "Business English" courses that are designed for adults seeking job specific English language training. Generally the courses are intensive and focus on improving student's use of English in the workplace

3.     ENGLISH LANGUAGE TESTS

The IELTS, TOEFL, CAE Cambridge and PTE Academic tests are the major testing systems used worldwide for entry into academic programs, including Australia. They are all accepted by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in regard to student visa applicants who need to demonstrate appropriate English proficiency.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection use the following equivalence table in their judgements:

English Language Tests for Student Visas

Test

Test Score Band

IELTS

4.0

4.5

5.0

5.5

6.0

6.5

7.0

7.5

8.0

8.5

9.0

TOEFL iBT

31

32

35

46

60

79

94

102

110

115

118

PTE Academic

29

30

36

42

50

58

65

73

79

83

86

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)

32

36

41

47

52

58

67

74

80

87

93

TOEFL PBT

433

450

500

527

550

           
  1. ENTRY POINTS

Students may enter an ELICOS college with any level of English proficiency. However, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) assigns certain requirements to student visas to students from certain countries. So, some students may only be able to study an English course for a limited length of time, depending on their nationality and sector in which they seek to study. 

Australian education institutions can only accept students with an appropriate level of English proficiency and institutions are free to set their own English language requirements. There may be different language proficiency levels and different measures used (eg. IELTS, TOEFL, CAE, PTE Academic or other ways to satisfy the language requirement) by different institutions in respect of the English proficiency levels required for their courses; other than the levels required for a student visa by DIBP.

  1. COST OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE COURSES

The average tuition costs are $305 per week, but course prices vary depending on:

  • the centre,
  • the centres' location, 
  • the length of the course.
  1. QUALITY ASSURANCE OF ELICOS

Australia ensures that international students receive the high quality of English language instruction. Australia is the only country in the world to have mandatory national standards specific to English language training and international students. The quality of courses and institutions providing English training are supported by two recognised industry associations:

  • National ELT Accreditation Scheme Limited (NEAS).

English Australia (EA).

II. FOUNDATION PROGRAMS

Foundation programs (also known as Foundation Years or University Preparation courses) take many forms but they offer an alternative means for international students to access post-school institutions. They are most commonly used as a pathway for students who do not meet the entry requirements of an undergraduate Bachelor degree program. Such programs are offered by institutions in the School, VET, ELICOS and Higher Education sectors.

More specifically, Foundation programs tend to:

  • contain academic based subjects,
  • focus on English language development,
  • have minimum entry requirements of successful completion of year 11 (or equivalent) and an of IELTS score of 5.5 (or equivalent scores of other acceptable language tests like TOEFL, Cambridge CAE or PTE),
  • be of a comparable academic standard to an Australian year 12 secondary school qualification,
  • be normally one academic year in length,
  • often guarantee entry to a particular university course if the student meets the required standards,
  • not offer credit in the subsequent program of study

Some foundation programs are shorter than one year (commonly called 'express' or 'accelerated' programs) and are typically offered to students who have completed year 12 and have an IELTS score of 6.0

Some foundation programs allow students to undertake a longer program than normal with extra English language development. These are often called 'extended' programs and are for students who have a lower English level typically IELTS 5.0

How are foundation programs different from secondary school Year 12 programs?

Foundation programs are functionally the same as Australian Year 12 secondary school programs and provide for a similar level of academic work. But, there are key differences between these two types of courses:

FOUNDATION PROGRAMS

YEAR 12 PROGRAMS

- their results are accepted by those institutions with prior arrangements and may guarantee a place in an undergraduate program to a student

- their results are accepted by all Australian higher education institutions

- they are typically provided for international students alone

- international students typically study alongside Australian students in most classes

- they are often packaged with the undergraduate program the student wishes to study

- they are not packaged with an undergraduate program

- they are designed for international students who wish to go to higher education

- they are designed to meet the needs of Australian students who may seek a variety of outcomes

- they develop the students academic English, communication and cultural awareness skills

- they may not directly develop these skills

- they focus on the subjects typically taken by international students at an undergraduate level

- they have a wider range of subject choices for students

- they often focus on the delivery of higher education learning such as lectures and tutorials

- they normally focus on classroom learning

- they are typically delivered in an adult college environment

- they are mostly delivered in a school setting (e.g. regarding uniforms, extra-curricular activities, and school camps)

- their students are usually aged from 17 to the early 20s with some mature age students

- their students are typically aged from 16 to 18

- if the program is linked to a university, the students commonly have use of the university's facilities, the university's academic staff have input into the program, and the university tracks the performance of ex-foundation students in undergraduate programs

- they are designed by State education authorities

 

 

  • RECOGNITION OF FOUNDATION PROGRAMS

The recognition of a foundation program by universities can vary greatly. Many universities guarantee entry to students undertaking their endorsed program but only recognize other foundation programs on a case-by-case basis.

III. DIPLOMA PROGRAMS

However, international students often take Diploma courses principally as a pathway to an undergraduate program rather than for the Diploma qualification itself. Business or Information Technology courses tend to be the most popular fields of study.

How are Diploma Programs different from Foundation Programs?

Universities offer credit to students who have completed a Diploma program. This usually means that they enter a Bachelor degree program in the second year. Even though Diploma courses are longer than foundation programs, this credit allows Diploma students to complete their studies in a shorter time than if they undertake a foundation program and then an undergraduate course.

There are a few further differences as outlined below:

DIPLOMA PROGRAMS

FOUNDATION PROGRAMS

- they always provide a qualification

- not all of them provide a qualification

- they have a more limited subject base than foundation programs. So, there are fewer options for further study. Typically, they provide entry to Business and IT courses

- they can often provide entry into all undergraduate courses offered at their partner university

- the most prestigious Australian universities typically do not provide much credit (if any) to on-shore Diploma programs. So, Diploma programs are not so beneficial or attractive for students who wish to enter these universities

- the most prestigious Universities often do not support a Diploma partnership as a mechanism for entry into their undergraduate programs

- the most prestigious universities prefer to endorse foundation programs as their preferred pathway

Diploma programs are a key pathway for international students. Universities that promote Diploma programs may also have a foundation pathway available to students. This option may be useful for students intending to take non-Business or IT courses, or as an entry path to the Diploma itself.

IV. OTHER BRIDGING COURSES

Australian institutions offer a large number of bridging and short courses, which are not similar to foundation or Diploma programs. It is difficult to categories them, because they are typically designed to support entry into a particular program at a particular institution. Also, they may have limited portability and recognition by other institutions.

Some general features of bridging courses are:

  • they vary greatly in length from 5 weeks or more, but usually shorter in duration than foundation or Diploma courses
  • they are commonly non-award
  • They can be non-essential. This means they offer the attainment of skills, which may be of use to a prospective student in a further course but which they do not formally need to enter the principal program
  • they may allow a student to attain a single pre-requisite subject, which is necessary for further study
  • they may provide an alternative means of improving English proficiency in an environment specific to a single discipline
  • They may provide entry to particular postgraduate courses.

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