Language of instruction policy

Intent and objectives

This policy provides guidance to staff and prospective and current students on RMIT’s language requirements with regard to admissions, program delivery and assessment.

The objectives of this policy are to:

  • Provide guidance on the language of instruction,
  • Establish expectations for language competencies in aspects of admissions, program delivery and assessment of students
  • Protect the standard and quality of RMIT qualifications, particularly those delivered and assessed offshore in a Language Other Than English (LOTE).

Scope

Applicable to all students and programs in all delivery locations

Exclusions

There are no exclusions

Policy provisions

1. General assumptions

1.1 English is the language most widely used in international education, business and communication. RMIT is committed to providing its graduates with a ‘global passport to learning and work’.

1.2 Staff and teaching and learning resources of RMIT are acquired on the assumption of competence in the English language. RMIT’s ability to assess and assure itself of its standards is based on the use of English as the primary means of communication and dialogue.

1.3 As part of their RMIT education, graduates are normally expected to acquire fluency in writing, reading and speaking English: some type of exit testing may be required in this regard.

Some programs may, however, be delivered in a LOTE. Such delivery may occur either onshore or offshore. This policy articulates the guiding principles where it is proposed that a program be delivered and assessed in a LOTE.

2. Language of delivery and assessment

There shall be two language options in the delivery of RMIT programs:

  • Programs delivered and assessed in English.
  • Programs delivered and assessed in a LOTE.

2.1 RMIT programs will normally be delivered and assessed in the English language. When a program is delivered and assessed in English, students will be expected to have met RMIT’s English language entry requirements at admission. (see 3).

2.2 Assessment

2.2.1 Where a program is delivered and assessed in English, special assessment conditions are not available for students for whom English is a second language solely on the basis that they have difficulty with reading and writing English

2.2.2 Students are permitted to take a hard copy bilingual dictionary (direct translation only) into an examination. The dictionary must not contain any notations or be otherwise tampered with in any way. The dictionary must be presented to the examination invigilator for inspection at the venue prior to the examination.

2.2.3 Standard English and electronic dictionaries are not permitted to be taken in to any examination by any student unless specifically approved under the terms of 2.2.4.

2.2.4 Where a program team believes any of the provisions of 2.2 above are inappropriate for a given course or assessment task, variation will be possible with the approval of the Course Coordinator. Details of any such conditions must be included in course guides and examination cover-sheets, which will be approved through the normal process.

2.3 All RMIT testamurs and transcripts of results will be produced in English. RMIT testamurs and transcripts of results for programs delivered entirely in a LOTE will include a clear statement that identifies the language of instruction and assessment. Any pre-existing contractual arrangements in this regard will stand until contract renegotiation, at which time they will be realigned to comply with this policy.

2.4 Assessment and delivery in LOTE

The acquisition and expression of skills and knowledge may in certain circumstances require an understanding of the subject matter in a cultural context which might most appropriately be delivered in a LOTE.

Where it is proposed that a program be delivered and assessed in a LOTE, the following principles will be observed:

2.4.1 Staff and learning resources must be of an equivalent standard to those that would be provided were the program to be delivered in English.

2.4.2 To ensure that student work can be adequately assessed and outcomes communicated, staff must normally be fluent in both English and the language of delivery and assessment as well as competent in the discipline area of the course or program. Where it is proposed that translators or interpreters be appointed, details of such arrangements must be included in the relevant program approval and quality assurance documentation. (see 2.4.4, 2.4.5)

2.4.3 The minimum language requirements upon admission for all programs of the University shall be maintained as for programs delivered and assessed in English and be set at the equivalent level for programs delivered and assessed in a LOTE. Required standards of language proficiency must be specified in program guides.

2.4.4 All programs delivered and assessed in a LOTE must be considered using the University's normal program approval, amendment and quality assurance processes. Any proposals to establish such programs must be submitted in English to all committees/bodies usually concerned with the approval of programs. Such proposals must also include statements clearly addressing LOTE issues, justifying the program in educational and cultural terms and demonstrating that proposals for such programs will have adequate and regular monitoring of the program and staff responsible for its delivery and assessment.

2.4.5 Program Quality Assurance (PQA) processes shall apply the same criteria and standards as those applying to courses taught in English and academic reviewers used for the purpose of such reviews shall normally be proficient in the relevant LOTE and in English. LOTE issues will be addressed as part of the PQA process.

2.4.6 Where the language of instruction is not English, relevant RMIT information will be provided in the relevant LOTE as required. The format in which this information is provided will be at the discretion of the School.

3 English language entry requirements

3.1 In order to be eligible for admission to an RMIT University program, applicants must satisfy University entry requirements and program entry requirements, including English language requirements. The rules regarding English language requirements are stated in the Selection and Admission policy and procedure.

4. English language support

4.1 RMIT advocates the provision of both pre-enrolment and concurrent English language support where appropriate. It is recognised that meeting a given language entry requirement (such as a specified IELTS, PTE(A) or TOEFL score) does not alone guarantee academic success. While motivation, previous study experience and culturally ingrained learning styles are all contributing factors in this regard, language proficiency is, however, critical.

4.2 A range of English language support will be made available, both pre-enrolment and during students’ enrolment.

4.3 English language support programs will be available to both international and domestic students.

4.4 Enrolled students who have met the relevant entry requirements for their program but wish to further develop their English skills may self-select for concurrent English language support.

4.5 Enrolled students who have met the relevant entry requirements for their program may nevertheless be identified by program staff on a case-by-case basis as likely to benefit academically from participating in concurrent English language support. Such students may be required to participate in a concurrent English language support program.

4.6 Students whose English language proficiency is marginal for the purposes of their study may find it economically as well as academically beneficial to undertake either pre-enrolment and/or concurrent English language support. It would be preferable to undertake extra English language support than to fail and need to repeat courses that are part of an award program.

4.7 Depending on availability, content and preference, these services may be offered on either a fee-paying and/or funded basis and students undertaking such a language support program may or may not be eligible for credit for their studies in their main academic program. Details of these issues should be finalised and documented prior to the commencement of any language support program.

5. Offshore delivery

5.1 Where it is proposed that a program be delivered and assessed offshore in English, it will either be subject to the same/equivalent policy provisions that exist for programs delivered onshore in English or will incorporate an additional English language component. In the interest of consistent policy implementation, variations may be included in policy documents to address process issues specific to offshore delivery.

5.2 Where it is proposed that a program be delivered and assessed offshore in a LOTE, the principles articulated in Section 2.4 of this policy will be observed.

5.3 Where a program is delivered and assessed offshore in a LOTE, applicants will be required to meet equivalent entry standards (excluding the English language requirements) as would apply for entry to such a program delivered onshore in English.

5.4 All programs delivered and assessed in a LOTE must appoint external assessors for each course and for the program as a whole, who would assess the quality of teaching, the translation of teaching materials, and the appropriateness of assessment materials. These external assessors will normally be fluent in both English and the language of delivery and assessment as well as be competent in the discipline area of the course or program. The external assessors would then be able to assist in the process of regular review of programs conducted throughout the University.

5.5 All appointments of academic staff to teach in programs conducted offshore must be made using similar criteria for appointments to a similar academic level in the discipline area in Australia. In addition, academic staff appointed to assess student work in a LOTE must be fluent in both English and the language of delivery and assessment.

5.6 All programs delivered offshore must comply with any State or Commonwealth government regulation in this regard, such as the Commonwealth’s Transnational Quality Strategy. One of the principles of this Strategy is that ‘courses/programs delivered within Australia and transnationally should be equivalent in the standard of delivery and outcomes of the course, as determined under nationally recognised quality assurance arrangements’.

5.7 All programs delivered offshore must comply with any relevant regulation in the country of delivery.

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