[lg policy] Newcastle University English language policy
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Sun Aug 21 17:50:55 UTC 2011
English Language Policy
1. Purpose and Scope
The purpose of this policy is to set out the University’s requirements
and standards for evaluating the English language ability of all
applicants who are not native speakers of English. Within the
University, we have a collective responsibility to ensure that all
international students have the appropriate level of English and
support where necessary to succeed on their academic programmes.
This policy applies to all programmes leading to a Newcastle
University award (including Credit Accumulation and Transfer
qualifications and those offered by INTO Newcastle University)
wherever these are delivered.
2. Key Principles
1. The University wishes to recruit international students with the
English Language capacity to succeed on their programme of study. All
applications should be evaluated for evidence of English language
ability. All applicants who are not from majority English speaking
countries must provide evidence of English language ability. INTO
Newcastle University and the International Office will provide advice
on all matters relating to English language ability and proficiency.
2. The minimum level of English language ability that is acceptable
for entry to a full undergraduate or postgraduate degree programme at
Newcastle University shall normally be IELTS 6.5, with no component
mark below IELTS 5.5.
Exceptions that are permitted are as follows:
a) Entry into degree programmes in which credit-bearing English
Language modules are part of the formal curriculum, or where there is
a significantly reduced demand for some aspects of English Language
proficiency because of the scientific/mathematical nature of the
coursework and assessment. In these circumstances entry may be set at
IELTS 6.0, with no component mark below IELTS 5.5. Students entering
on this basis may be required to attend In-Sessional English at the
b) Entry into ‘Study Abroad’ and non-Erasmus exchange programmes,
where acquisition of English language proficiency may be part of the
purpose of the programme.
c) Entry into degree programmes that require particular linguistic
competence, which justifies the setting of a higher level of minimum
proficiency. (Examples include Speech and Language Therapy, Medicine,
The degree programmes to which higher or lower entry scores will
apply, and the scores in each case, shall be determined by the
relevant Faculty Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Committee
or Graduate School Committee as appropriate, with advice from
INTO Newcastle University and the International Office. The lists of
exceptions and scores shall be reviewed by the relevant Faculty
Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Committee or Graduate School
Committee at the last full meeting of the academic year, before the
beginning of each new admissions cycle. All scores must comply with
the essential criteria as set out in paragraph 3 below.
3. The University has its own language requirements as set out in
paragraph 2 above but, in line with UKBA regulations, all students
seeking admission to Newcastle University must be competent in English
a) For qualifications at NQF level 6 (undergraduate degree level) or
above this must be at a minimum of level B2 on the Common European
Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in each of the four
components of language learning (reading, writing, listening,
speaking). IELTS* 5.5 is deemed to demonstrate B2 level competence.
Under no circumstances therefore will a student be given admission to
a full degree programme at Newcastle University with a level of
English Language below IELTS 5.5, or with a component mark lower than
b) For qualifications below NQF level 6 (undergraduate degree level)
this must be at a minimum of level B1 on the Common European Framework
of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in each of the four components of
language learning (reading, writing, listening, speaking). IELTS* 4.0
is deemed to demonstrate B1 level competence.
Under no circumstances therefore will a student be given admission to
any University programme with a level of English Language below IELTS
4.0, or with a component mark lower than IELTS 4.0.
*Note: IELTS is the most widely used English Language assessment.
IELTS is therefore referenced throughout this document - the
University will however accept English Language qualifications
equivalent to IELTS, provided the qualifications are formally
recognised by the University (see paragraph 5 below).
4. Applicants for whom the University has deemed their academic
qualifications acceptable but whose language proficiency is below that
required for the particular academic programme should receive a
conditional offer, but will be required to reach the necessary minimum
level before the start of their programme. This can be done in the
students’ home country or by registering for a Pre-Sessional course in
INTO Newcastle University for those with an IELTS higher than 5.5
overall. Faculty Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Committees
and Graduate School Committees may set a higher threshold for entry to
their individual Pre-Sessional programmes.
For those with an IELTS lower than 5.5 overall, a Pre-Sessional course
is not appropriate; these students will require a longer English
Language programme in INTO Newcastle
University or elsewhere. INTO Newcastle University publishes guidance
on the length of language training required and can make specific
recommendations where appropriate.
Students who successfully complete the Pre-Sessional programme will be
eligible to register with the University, provided other conditions
are met. For those students who enter the Pre-Sessional with a score
lower than 5.5 in one or more sub-components, successful completion
will be dependent upon achieving this minimum score in each component
and a relevant test will be required prior to admission onto the
5. Offers should clearly indicate a strong preference for IELTS as the
measure of English language proficiency. A list of alternative English
language tests and examinations considered as acceptable evidence of
having achieved a certain level of English language proficiency is
kept under continual review and is available in Appendix B. In all
cases, the English language test must have been taken within the
preceding two years of the date of offer. In addition, where a visa is
required, the test must have been taken within two years of the
Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies being issued.
6. Applicants from certain countries shall be exempted from the need
to satisfy the usual English language conditions set out above. The
list of exempt countries shall be reviewed annually by the University
and is contained in Appendix A to this Policy. Applicants from the
countries listed in Appendix B (Table 1) may also be exempted from the
need to satisfy the usual English language conditions, and details are
provided in Appendix B (Table 2) of relevant qualifications that are
considered appropriate alternatives in these countries.
7. Applicants for a degree or higher qualification may also be exempt
from the requirement to provide proof of their English language skills
at the appropriate level if, within the last 12 months, they have
successfully completed two full academic years of degree level study
at a UK based University.
8. Applicants who are not automatically exempted on the basis of their
nationality (see Appendix A) shall be subject to the language
conditions set out above. Deans may approve exemptions from the normal
language criterion for a given programme, provided they have
sufficient evidence that the applicant in question does not fall below
the minimum criteria for component marks set out in paragraph 2.
9. All new students who are not from a majority English speaking
country shall be tested at registration to assess their level of
English language proficiency. INTO Newcastle University will
administer this assessment on behalf of Newcastle University using its
own University English Language Assessment (UELA). This test will
identify students who need support in one or more language skills so
that recommendations about attendance at classes are made at an early
stage. Students may be exempted from this test on the following bases:
a) Providing evidence of English language proficiency at the level of
IELTS 7.0 in all four language skills (or one of the equivalents
provided by INTO Newcastle University).
b) Having been educated for a minimum of two years in an
English-speaking country as defined in the list of exempted countries
(see Appendix A).
c) On the basis of other evidence provided on the Exemption Form and
confirmed by INTO Newcastle University.
10. An analysis of the UELA results will be reported annually to
University Teaching Learning and Student Experience Committee, Faculty
Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Committees and Graduate
11. On the basis of the UELA, students may be required to undertake
free In-Sessional language training. This could be via credit-bearing
modules or non credit-bearing courses. Achievement of the desired
level of attendance and participation, or proficiency, can be made a
condition of satisfactory student progress by the Degree Programme
Director or, in the case of a research student, by the Postgraduate
Dean. The Degree Programme Director or Postgraduate Dean will
communicate the requirement to the student in writing.
12. The Admissions Teams will monitor and ensure the implementation of
this policy throughout the application and offer processes. The
relevant Degree Programme Director (or nominee), or the Supervisory
Team in the case of PhD students, will monitor compliance with
In-Sessional language training requirements in liaison with INTO
Newcastle University. The policy will be reviewed annually by QuILT in
collaboration with the International Office and the Admissions Teams.
Exemption by Country
Speakers of English from a majority English speaking country are
exempted from both the language conditions set out in the policy and
the University English Language Assessment (UELA). Decisions to exempt
on these grounds are normally taken on a “country of origin” basis.
Applicants from the countries listed below will be exempted from both
the language conditions set out in the policy and the UELA. The
underlying assumption is that applicants from these countries who have
the necessary academic qualifications for entry to a degree programme
will also have a sufficiently high level of English to undertake a
programme of academic study in the UK. No language holds will be
placed on the records of applicants from these countries.
Appendix A: Exempted Countries
Antigua and Barbuda
St Kitts and Nevis
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
United States of America
Exemption by Alternative Qualification
Applicants from the countries listed in Table 1 will be required to
provide evidence of having attained the required IELTS scores unless
they can provide other evidence of a high level of competence in
English as detailed below. Table 2 details English Language
qualifications that the University will deem to be equivalent to IELTS
5.5 across all sub-components and can be used for entry to programmes
at degree level or higher. These students will be required to take the
UELA on registration at the University.
To be confirmed
Applicants from countries which are not listed in either of the tables
above will be required to provide an IELTS score (or equivalent) and
take the UELA for registration purposes. Exemptions from the UELA can
only be granted by INTO Newcastle University on behalf of Newcastle
IMPORTANT: International students who have been exempted from the UELA
will still be eligible to take the test and access English language
support should they and/or their tutors/supervisors deem this
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