SCMP Thursday, November 8, 2001

University English tests to start next year


The English exit test for university students was expected to be introduced in the next academic year but it would not be compulsory, university chiefs said yesterday.
The University Grants Committee, a government-appointed body responsible for allocating funds to tertiary institutions, is determined to devise a standard English exit test for students.
Committee secretary Peter Cheung Po-tak said yesterday the two-part test - oral and written - would be introduced next academic year.
University of Science and Technology president, Professor Paul Chu Ching-wu, said the heads of eight tertiary institutions had reached a consensus that the tests would be done on a voluntary basis.
A taskforce on English exit tests and language enhancement, appointed by the heads of the eight institutions, recommended two weeks ago that a common exit test be introduced in the next academic year. It also proposed that the test should not affect students' graduation.
"Whatever test is finally adopted will test all English-language skills," said Professor Gregory James, the taskforce convenor.
Professor Chu said students could decide whether to declare their test results in their graduation transcripts.
"There is mounting pressure on university students to enhance their English standards," he said. "I expect students at our university will not object to an English exit test."
A survey carried out by the Chinese University's student union last Friday found that about 70 per cent of 823 students interviewed opposed the introduction of an English exit test.