In a debate about whether a student’s English is up to the standard required for admittance to a UK university, you might expect the student to be the one doing most of the arguing about passing muster.
Not so at the University of Warwick, where a recent international master’s student who failed to gain the qualification has claimed that she should never have been admitted in the first place because her English skills did not meet the standard demanded by the institution.
The student, who asked not to be named, was originally told in 2010 that in order to be accepted on to the course, she would need to achieve BBC on the Warwick English Language Test – an examination designed to assess overseas students’ English proficiency.
However, after sitting the test at a centre in Pakistan and achieving BCC, one grade lower than required, the student’s offer was changed to “unconditional”, allowing her to take up a place.
“I do not understand why Warwick printed the admission criteria…and followed a different standard,” the student told Times Higher Education.
She admitted that because she had been busy applying to a number of universities and wanted to secure a place, she originally opted to “ignore” the error.
She now feels that she was accepted for financial reasons – namely, the fact that she would be paying high international fees.
However, a spokesman for Warwick confirmed that although the student was offered admission if they attained BBC in the WELT exam, a “simple typo” by overseas colleagues meant that the university was under the impression that she had in fact attained the necessary grade. This had led to her being admitted, he added.
“The student does not seem to have queried the error at that time,” the spokesman said, adding that the WELT was no longer used by the university.
He also pointed out that a score of 6.5 on the British Council International English Language Testing System would have been deemed sufficient for admission, and that both BCC and BBC in WELT equate to that grade.
Despite this, according to the WELT handbook, a student achieving BBC can be expected to have a “fairly good command of academic English…[although] some further language support may be seen as beneficial”.
Meanwhile, a BCC student is deemed to exhibit merely “satisfactory command of academic English…some further language support is likely to be necessary”.