Netherlands Weighs up Whether New Online IELTS Test Meets their Requirements
For prospective international students who are unable to do an English proficiency test at an IELTS test centre due to COVID-19-related restrictions, IELTS has now launched IELTS Indicator, an online English language test. A press statement on the matter was released over the weekend.
The Netherlands is considering whether this will meet their own requirements for international students.
Meanwhile, the National Commission for the Code of Conduct for International Students in Dutch Higher Education has indicated it is looking into whether the IELTS Indicator would also be suitable for international students applying to the Netherlands. Most students do an IELTS or TOEFL at a test centre in their home country as part of the admission process to study abroad, but as many of these centres around the world closed, students found themselves stuck.
The secretary of the commission, Jolanda van den Bosch, said it is, nonetheless, encouraging to see that the test providers have set to work on an alternative to the existing tests in the short term. Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences was one of the institutions that petitioned the commission to temporarily lift the requirement that international students prove they have sufficient command of English by submitting the results of a normal IELTS/TOEFL language test as part of their application to study in the Netherlands.
If a solution is not found, this could spell disaster for the Netherlands' September intake of international students. About 90% of Wittenborg students are international and about 80% are from non-EU/EE areas. International students are required to apply for admission at least 6–8 weeks before their intended start date and results of the IELTS/TOEFL tests must be obtained before application.
The press statement from IELTS sheds further light on how it is to be conducted: "IELTS Indicator will assess a student’s English language skills in Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking in a timed, online test from the comfort of their home. To ensure that the test focuses on real-life conversation skills, students will conduct their speaking test face to face with a trained IELTS examiner via video call."
It gave assurance that standards will not be dropped. "IELTS Indicator content has been developed using the same high-quality standards as for all IELTS tests and has the same format and timing as the in-person IELTS. Tests will be marked by official IELTS examiners."
Christine Nuttall, Managing Director IELTS at Cambridge Assessment English, said IELTS Indicator will help both students and education providers during this period of disruption. “We know that many students globally have been affected by the suspension of in-person testing, with their international education aspirations delayed by COVID-19,” Ms Nuttall said.
“In response to this, the IELTS Partners have developed a test that retains the quality and accuracy of IELTS to give education providers a clear indication of an applicant’s English language skills. While it is not intended to replace IELTS, education institutions will be able to use IELTS Indicator results to help assess students’ applications during this period of suspended in-person testing.
“We recognise that this is a difficult time and we want to ensure that education providers are still able to process students’ applications. IELTS Indicator will provide a reliable, interim measure. Once test centres are able to re-open we will work to offer IELTS testing as soon as possible and have programmes in place to help address additional demand,” she said.
The Indicator test will be available in selected locations where it is not currently possible to deliver in-person IELTS testing.
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press