National Chengchi University (NCCU) on Friday abolished a rule requiring students to pass standardized English proficiency tests, becoming the latest university to drop the graduation requirement following National Cheng Kung University and National Taipei University of Education.
At an NCCU council meeting, school and student representatives debated whether to keep the requirement, with supporters saying it helps motivate students to improve their English skills and opponents criticizing schools’ tendency to rely on exams to evaluate students’ performance.
According to the requirement, students must score a minimum of 61 points on the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based test or its equivalent. Those who fail to meet the requirement need to complete additional English courses to graduate.
Following a 47-7 vote, in favor of scrapping the requirement, the university announced that students would be no longer be required to meet it to graduate.
“Now that English proficiency is no longer a graduation requirement, the university will make it a key objective to improve students’ English proficiency,” NCCU president Edward Chow (周行一) said, adding that being fluent in English enables students to learn more about the world and increases their chances of finding better jobs.
NCCU Foreign Language Center head Rainbow Chen (陳彩虹) said that the university is planning to increase the credits for compulsory English courses for non-English majors to three credits per course and would continue to review and correct its English policy.
“As a leading university in Taiwan, NCCU is setting a positive example for other universities in the nation by respecting the autonomy of students and teachers,” the National Chengchi University Student Association said in a statement.
NCCU students had advocated abolishing the requirement for four years, the association said.
Over the past years, students had resorted to almost every available means to change the university’s English policy, from holding joint news conferences with other student associations and organizing public hearings to filing a lawsuit against the school and reporting the issue to the Control Yuan.
The Ministry of Education respects universities’ decisions and their autonomy, Department of Higher Education Director Nicole Lee (李彥儀) said.
Many universities have made English proficiency a graduation requirement since the ministry listed it as one of the criteria for sponsoring universities’ education projects, she said, adding that many schools dropped the requirement after the ministry removed the criterion.
Last year, National Taipei University of Education and Fo Guang University removed English proficiency from their graduation requirements.
Schools that still demand proof of English proficiency include National Taiwan University, National Tsing Hua University and National Taiwan Normal University.
Additional reporting by CNA
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