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HEC considering English exam for university students

LAHORE, July 30: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has decided to make the passing of the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) compulsory for teachers at public sector universities from 2008 but should the test be made mandatory for graduate level students will be decided after public sector universities vice chancellors (VCs) give their opinion in this regard, HEC Quality Insurance Advisor Dr Riaz Qurashi said on Sunday.

Qureshi said that a couple of days ago the HEC had circulated a letter to VCs of public sector universities that from 2008 new faculty members had to pass the TOEIC and that from 2009 master's students would also have to pass the test and the HEC would help universities in this regard. He said the purpose of the test was to build the capacity of faculty members and master's level students by improving their English language skill.

He said the HEC was committed to making this test mandatory for newly appointed lecturers, assistant professors, associate professors and professors. He said the commission was waiting for VCs' response on making the test obligatory for master's students. He said the students of oriental studies might be exempted from the test.

Qureshi said whether the National Testing Service (NTS) or the universities would conduct the test, would be decided in a meeting with VCs. He said the HEC would monitor the testing to guarantee the validity of the test. He said foreign universities were asking the commission to implement such type of testing to increase students' communication skills in English.

Acting HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said that the HEC had received various complains from foreign universities that Pakistani graduate students had difficulties in communicating in English and that the level of master's degree was low. He said such students were a disgrace for the country and to tackle the problem the test was being considered to make obligatory for master's students. He said the HEC had along been planning to implement such a test. He said there were three purposes of the test to improve students' communication skills, to increase the worth of Pakistani master's degree and to hire faculty at universities that possessed good communication skills. He said the HEC was committed to implementing TOEIC for hiring new faculty at public universities.

Mukhtar said the students of Punjabi and Arabic would have difficulties in taking the test but taking the test would increase the worth of their degree. He said the final decision would be taken next month after universities' proposal on implementing the test.

Punjab University Registrar Dr Naeem Khan said the university had circulated the HEC letter to all deans of the university and faculty members for their comments regarding the test. He said the HEC's proposal would be discussed in the board meeting with but that he was of the opinion that the test should be implemented in all public universities.

Punjab University Academic Staff Association (PUASA) president Dr Mumtaz Ahmad Salik has only opposed the HEC's so far. Daily times

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