The Ministry of Education recently completed a review of the development projects of 35 private universities and discovered that only 0.74 percent of private university students pass the General English Proficiency Test (GEPT).
In light of the findings, the ministry urged universities to make English proficiency a graduation requirement for students.
Several departments at National Taiwan University and National Chengchi University have already adopted the GEPT as a requirement for graduation, while Tunghai University is to follow suit in the next academic year.
Ho Cho-fei (何卓飛), director of the ministry’s Department of Higher Education, said that students need to improve their English proficiency so that they are more competitive when looking for employment. Although English is a required subject in high schools, it is still listed as an optional subject at university, he said.
The review said only 11 percent of students at Shih-hsin University, which is well-known for its communications programs, passed elementary level GEPT, while only 5 percent passed intermediate level. The ministry has advised the university to implement a program to improve students’ English proficiency as soon as possible.
Although students at Chinese Culture University are required by the school to demonstrate a basic proficiency in English, only about 5,200 students have passed an English proficiency evaluation.
The review also found that Fu Jen Catholic University had failed to make English proficiency a graduation requirement for its students and that it only uses a self-designed proficiency test to evaluate students’ English ability. The review suggested the university adopt an English proficiency test from outside the campus.
Students at Huafan University are required to take a foreign language course for three years, but the review said only 0.11 percent of them passed the GEPT, a rate even lower than the average.
Meanwhile, although Providence University puts an emphasis on language programs and 42 percent of students passed the GEPT, only 336 students take the proficiency test each year, the review said. The university does not offer enough English courses, so it has been advised to set stricter requirements for graduation and encouraged to teach more English classes, the review said.
This is in stark contrast to Ming Chuang University, where English is listed as a required course for four years and more than 2,000 students passed intermediate level GEPT. In addition, 28 percent of students in foreign language programs at Shih Chien University passed the B1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Yuan Ze University also emphasizes bilingual skills with 50 percent of its courses conducted in English. It has made English proficiency an admission requirement and holds English-learning camps for freshmen.
A professor of financial management at the university said when he was interviewing applicants for graduate programs he found that some students had trouble pronouncing simple English words, such as the days of the week.
University student Shen Erh-li (沈而立) agreed that English proficiency was important when considering either further studies or employment and said it should be made a graduation requirement.
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