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International students

English Language Policy

Last updated: 13 August 2021

  1. Purpose
  2. Responsibilties
  3. English Language Requirements
  4. Secure English Language Tests
  5. Alternative English Language Assessments for Admission
  6. Accepted Alternative English Language Qualifications

1. Purpose

1.1 This policy is in place to detail the English language requirements for all students seeking admission to University of Gloucestershire programmes. The aim of this policy is to ensure that entry requirements are standardised and adhered to and that UK Home Office immigration rules are not infringed. This policy applies to all programmes leading to a UK based University of Gloucestershire award.

2. Responsibilities

2.1 The University of Gloucestershire (UoG) has a responsibility to ensure that all students have the necessary English language ability required to complete the programme to which they are admitted, and to comply with UK Home Office Immigration rules regarding minimum English language levels.

2.2 Assessment of English language proficiency will be based on qualifications achieved to date, and will initially be the responsibility of the UoG Admissions team to assess against UoG entry requirements. If doubts arise as to the application of UK Home Office rules, the UoG Immigration Compliance team will make a further assessment.

2.3 English language requirements for entry onto UoG courses are agreed as part of the course validation process, and will be assessed by the Immigration Compliance team to ensure UK Home Office requirements are met.

2.4 UoG Admissions will not issue students with an unconditional offer until English language ability has been assessed and confirmed as meeting the relevant entry requirements.

2.5 There may be additional requirements to be met if the student requires Student Route visa sponsorship. The requirements are extensively listed in the UK immigration rules and may exceed the standard requirements of the University. In these cases, the UK immigration rules must be adhered to.

2.6 Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statements for Student Route visa support will not be issued until a copy of the student’s official English language qualification has been seen by the Admissions and Immigration Compliance teams and the appropriate checks taken to ensure the document is genuine and meets UK Home Office immigration rules. A copy of this document will be retained on file by the Immigration Compliance team.

2.7 Where students are progressing from pre-sessional English courses, UoG will be responsible for assessing these students’ English language proficiency. Before progression to substantive UoG programmes, these students must have achieved the required English language level as set out in the relevant entry requirements.

2.8 In-sessional English language support may also be provided, but this can only be to help further develop a student’s English language ability in-session after already having achieved the required English language level prior to admission.

2.9 Where there are concerns for the University’s Student Route sponsor licence, the Immigration Compliance team will make an assessment and take appropriate action. Where necessary, admission based on particular qualifications may be suspended pending further investigation, and ultimately qualifications may be removed from the University’s list of accepted qualifications. To remain compliant with UK immigration rules, this may happen at any time and without notice.

2.10 UoG English language requirements are subject to change based on future assessments of English language qualifications used for acceptance, developments with UK Home Office Immigration rules, and changes to UoG policy.

2.11 This policy is subject to change at any time to ensure agreement with UK Home Office immigration rules. If immigration rules relating to any aspect of this policy change (as can often be the case) then the immigration rules must be followed during the interim period while this policy is updated to reflect these changes. UK immigration rules are subject to change with little or no notice. The UK Home Office immigration rules require that all Student Route students achieve an acceptable standard of English language before a Student Route visa for study in the UK can be issued.

3. English Language Requirements

UK Nationals

3.1 All UK nationals will be expected to provide evidence (via UCAS, physical certificate or other verifiable method) of having achieved a grade C (or 4, for post 2017 results) in GCSE English language or a pass in Functional Skills in English. Other qualifications may also be accepted, and applicants should contact UoG Admissions for a full list.

Non-UK Nationals

3.2 All students who are non-UK nationals (known as ‘international’ or “EEA” students) will be required to provide verifiable evidence that they have met the required level of English language ability for the programme. Those with permanent legal residence within the UK may be assessed via paragraph 3.1 instead. Applicants can see a list of English language qualifications accepted in section 6 of this document. Students with qualifications not listed should contact UoG Admissions for clarification on whether their qualifications will be accepted. There may be additional requirements for students wishing to study on a Student Route or Short-Term Study visa, which can be found below.

Additional Requirements for Student Route and Short-Term Study Visa Students

3.3 Students who are nationals of a majority English speaking country will be exempt from providing evidence of English language proficiency for Student Route purposes. The list of majority English speaking countries is determined by the UK Home Office in the “Student Route Guidance for Sponsors – Document 2: Sponsorship Duties”. This list is subject to change but as of October 2020 includes nationals of Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States of America. The latest guidance from the UK Home Office should be consulted to confirm which countries feature on the list at the time of admission.

3.4 Students who have successfully completed a qualification equivalent to a UK degree (this equivalence must be evidenced by Ecctis) which has been taught in one of the following nations will also be exempt: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States of America.

3.5 Students using paragraph 3.4 to evidence English proficiency must have studied at least one of the following:

a) one year (level 6) of a University of Gloucestershire Undergraduate programme taught at UoG or as a validated or franchised degree programme taught in the medium of English overseas

b) one year ( level 6 ) of any other degree programme taught at a recognised university in the UK

c) one year (level 6) of any other degree programme taught in a majority English speaking country

d) one year (level 6) of any other degree programme taught through the medium of English in a non-majority English speaking country, and must also achieve the required level of English on a UoG English Language Assessment

e) two years of (level 5 & 6) of any other degree programme taught in a majority English speaking country or through the medium of English at a non-majority English speaking country

f) two years of (level 4 & 5) of any other degree programme taught in a majority English speaking country or through the medium of English at a non-majority English speaking country, and must also achieve the required level of English on a UoG English Language Assessment

g) a full master’s degree programme taught in a majority English speaking country

h) a full master’s degree programme taught through the medium of English in a non-majority English speaking country, and must also achieve the required level of English on a UoG English Language Assessment

3.6 Students transferring from a UoG validated or franchised degree programme, taught in the medium of English overseas, who apply to complete their studies on the same programme delivered at UoG must have successfully completed at least one full academic year of the course at the partner.

3.7 The minimum English Language requirements for entry onto a UoG programme are detailed below as IELTS band scores in relation to level of study. If the student has not taken an IELTS test, other equivalent alternative assessments or qualifications may be considered, as detailed in sections 4, 5 and 6.

3.8 The UoG standard English language entry requirements for undergraduate courses are:

a) Bachelor degree courses (level 4 & 5 & 6 entry) – IELTS 6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in any component

3.9 The UoG standard English language entry requirements for Postgraduate courses are:

a) Postgraduate degree courses – IELTS 6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in any component
b) Postgraduate Research Programmes – IELTS 6.5 overall with no less than 6.0 in writing and no less than 5.5 in any other component

3.10 Exceptions to paragraphs 3.8 and 3.9 will be detailed in section 4 of this document.

3.11 The UoG standard English language requirements for pre-sessional programmes can be found here:
https://www.glos.ac.uk/international/english-language-courses/

3.12 Students studying a UoG pre-sessional programme online from overseas will not be required to supply a SELT as evidence, and may instead evidence English using another approved type of qualification.

3.13 As well as the requirements set out above, the University must also ensure that all students who are to be granted Student Route visa sponsorship also meet the UK Home Office minimum English language requirements:

i) Courses at RQF 6 or above must have an entry requirement of CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) B2 equivalent or higher in each of the four components of assessment (reading, writing, speaking and listening).

ii) Courses below RQF 6 must have an entry requirement of CEFR B1 equivalent or higher in each of the four components of assessment.

3.14 UoG minimum requirements for entry will never be set beneath the minimum required by the UKVI for students requiring Student Route visa support. This would be, at the very minimum, IELTS 5.5 in each component (equivalent to CEFR B2) for courses at RQF6 or above, and a minimum of IELTS 4.0 in each component (equivalent to CEFR B1) for courses below RQF6. Entry requirements may be set higher depending on the demands of the course.

3.15 Student Route students on a ‘joint CAS’ (covering the in-person pre-sessional and main course of study) who fail to pass the pre-sessional with the required level of English needed for the main course by the main course start date will have their offer withdrawn and be reported to the UKVI for visa curtailment. As pre-sessional courses cannot be more than three months long, there is no scope for the student to re-take the pre-sessional. The student may be able to undertake further English language study, but only after returning to their country of ordinary residence and making a fresh Student Route application from overseas (see Student Route Guidance: Document 2 – Academic Progression).

3.16 Students will only be given a CAS for a below degree level (below RQF6) course once they have a valid Secure English Language Test (SELT) which meets the requirements mentioned above. Equivalent alternative assessments or qualifications will not be accepted for admission onto below degree level courses.

3.17 A SELT below CEFR B1 will never be accepted for a course below RQF6 where Student Route visa support is needed. Students who are below CEFR B1 and who wish to take General English or English for University Study may be able to on a Short-Term Study visa.

3.18 Although some students may be exempt from providing evidence of English language for Student Route or Short-Term Study visa purposes, evidence of English proficiency may still be a condition of admission for academic reasons.

3.19 In some cases, where a student has already demonstrated English proficiency in a previous successful application for leave to study in UK, that English proficiency will not need to be evidenced as part of the visa application itself. However, it will usually still be required to fulfil Admissions criteria for acceptance onto the programme.

4. Secure English Language Tests

4.1 The UK Home Office publish a list of SELTs that can be used to support a Student Route visa application. This list can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prove-your-english-language-abilities-with-a-secure-english-language-test-selt

5. Alternative English Language Assessments for Admission

In addition to SELTs, the immigration rules also allow HEIs to make their own assessment of the English language proficiency of students studying at RQF6 or above. The Student Route sponsor must assess the student’s English language level to ensure that the student will be capable of study at or above degree level, and must be able to justify why any nonSELT English language qualifications have been used as part of the student’s admission.

5.1 Students not exempt under any previous sections of this policy, who do not require Student Route sponsorship (those applying for Short-Term-Study visas or holding another type of permission to study in the UK) may also be accepted based on an alternative English language qualification or assessment.

5.2 The process for assessing an English language qualification or assessment as suitable to confirm that students have achieved the required standard of English to study the course begins with the suggested qualification first being investigated by UoG Compliance, Admissions and International Recruitment Team. The course leading to the qualification will be reviewed, with specific attention being given to ensure that the qualification not only confirms the student’s overall grade, but also confirms that each component (reading, writing, speaking and listening) has been assessed as being at the required level for the course. Where necessary these details will also be reviewed by the English Language team.

5.3 Some alternative qualifications may be accepted which do not specify component scores. If it is possible that a student could have achieved the qualification or assessment being used for admission while having failed to achieve CEFR B2 in one of the individual components, then a UoG English Language Assessment may be taken to supplement this qualification and confirm proficiency in the four components of English language (specifically in relation to students requiring Student Route support). This assessment will provide a breakdown of individual component scores.

5.4 The Ecctis database should be used at all times to supplement the above, showing equivalences to UK qualifications. Case studies by other UK HEIs, and any information from the UK Home Office will also be considered.

5.5 Any qualifications which are approved via this process will be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that there have been no substantial changes in how students are taught or assessed. This information will be reviewed by the UoG Immigration Compliance Manager.

5.6 The UoG Compliance team will also monitor the completion rates of students who have used these qualifications for admission. If concerns arise where the course completion rate falls below expected norms, then the issue will be discussed between the Compliance, International Recruitment and Admissions teams, and (if required) admission using this qualification will no longer be permitted. Over time, with a larger data set, it is expected that these reports will become an increasingly accurate reflection of the qualification’s suitability for assessing English.

5.7 The validity period of each qualification accepted is assessed by the Immigration Compliance Team on the basis of information from the awarding body of the qualification. Generally, if the qualification obtained is an assessment of a student’s English language level on a given day then this will be valid for two years (in line with IELTS validity periods). If the qualification recognises a standard of English achieved in an exam after a course of preparation, then the qualification will be valid for three years (for example, City and Guilds ESOL).

5.8 Students whose alternative English language qualification has expired (exceeded the validity period) may be given the opportunity to be assessed via a UoG English Language Assessment. This assessment will look at all four components of the student’s English language ability and will look to confirm that the student’s ability hasn’t worsened to below the level previously obtained. A record of the student’s ability in each component of the assessment will be kept on file. The assessment will test the student with an expected IELTS and CEFR band equivalence. Students failing to evidence the required level of English will be required to provide a new IELTS test result or alternative qualification.

5.9 The University may offer testing of individual components in instances where the students can provide valid evidence that
other components have already been tested and meet the course requirements.

5.10 Where a student is 0.5 of one component score below the entry requirements for the course (and where all other components are at or above the entry requirement), a UoG English Language Assessment may be used to reassess the student.

5.11 A UoG English Language Assessment will not be offered to reassess a student at a higher level of English within two months of failing to reach the required level of English when taking a SELT. The UKVI consider SELT tests to be the ‘gold standard’ of English language testing, and so should be considered as authoritative for this period. After two months, it may be possible to justify that the student’s English language proficiency has improved.

6. Accepted Alternative English Language Qualifications

Please see this webpage for a full list of our accepted alternative English language qualifications: https://www.glos.ac.uk/information/knowledge-base/english-language-entry-requirements/

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