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International student admission to ESL programs in public and private post-secondary institutions in British Columbia May, Cecily Marryat

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to describe and analyze policies and practices that facilitate and hinder international student admission to English as a Second Language (ESL) programs at public and private post-secondary institutions in British Columbia, from the perspective of institutions themselves. Since 1986, a proliferation of ESL programs for international students have emerged in public and private post-secondary institutions in B.C. and numbers of international students in the non-university sector of education in Canada have grown. The governments of B.C. and Canada recognize that English language training is a growing business in Canada and the world. Admissions procedures are but one factor of many that influence a student's decision to apply. This study assumes that streamlined admission to ESL programs will make Canada more attractive, and therefore increase its numbers of international students, a goal that exists for public and private institutions, for internationalization and economic purposes. The research question was: What facilitates and what hinders international student admission to ESL programs in public and private post-secondary institutions in British Columbia? Secondary questions were: How can admissions policies and procedures be more effective and more efficient? What are the implications for change at the institutional, provincial, and national levels? Over a six-week period in 1999, the author interviewed admissions personnel at forty post-secondary institutions in B.C. (sixteen public and twenty-four private), comprising 60% of those that met the selection criteria of providing year-round ESL to international students and having been in operation for three years. The interviews were transcribed and the data were analyzed with data from a questionnaire and written institutional material. The study finds and presents some institutional factors relating to documents, personnel, communication, fee payment and other issues that facilitate and hinder international student admission to ESL programs. However, the study also identifies areas beyond the control of institutions that, from the perspective of admissions personnel, may have a greater effect on international student admission to ESL programs and therefore on increasing the number of international students in Canada. The author makes ten recommendations for institutions and concludes with seven questions for future research.

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