Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, British and U.S. universities are admitting more and more non-native English speakers to graduate and undergraduate programs. In the states, our science and math programs are often dominated by foreign students. It is said that this is because local students aren’t measuring up in maths, so the universities are drawing talent from elsewhere. In countries like the UK, Australia or New Zealand, universities need the cash that full fee paying foreigners pay.
Many of the foreign graduate students I have met in the States are technically/vocationally competent in there fields. Their math skills are usually more than sufficient for an American PhD in engineering, physics, etc. I don’t doubt that they are bright people. However, most of them can’t write. I have often wondered how these people could possibly write a well argued, persuasive dissertation in English. Some of them are fully aware that their written (and often spoken) English is not at the same level as their knowledge in their field of study. Some of them don’t care. Some of them think that their English is just great and that they excel above the dumb local students in every way.
I’m wondering what people here think of this. Should universities in native English speaking countries require that their foreign graduate students be able to write well? In the States, a lot of tax dollars go to foreign students in the form of grants or assistantships. My thinking is that if they are going to get government money to study, they should at least have English language skills that will enable them to contribute to the corpus of their field. In my opion, letting a foreign graduate student with poor English into an Engineering program is the same as admitting a local with poor math skills. If a local’s math skills weren’t good enough, he/she would have to spend their own time and money to brush those skills up. Is it right to expect foreign students to do the same with their English skills?