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Mercyhurst launches ESL-equivalent

Monday, August 11, 2014

As part of its international student growth, Mercyhurst has launched an Intensive English Program (IEP) — an English as a Second Language (ESL) equivalent — offering international students collegiate-level English proficiency training in reading, writing, grammar, listening and speaking.

The IEP is designed to assist international students who had not yet passed either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam but still wish to pursue a college education in the United States.

In years past, Mercyhurst only enrolled international students who met the minimum 79 TOEFL or 6.5 IELTS scores. However, as the university moves to expand its international recruiting to include countries like China and Saudi Arabia, the new IEP becomes another way to ensure the academic success of its international students.

A plan to implement a system of conditional acceptance for both undergraduate and graduate applicants who meet all qualifications for acceptance except language proficiency is under way. As part of the plan, international students without English proficiency will be classified as non-degree Mercyhurst students until they pass one of the exams.

Gena Kost, a visiting ESL specialist, has developed the IEP and oversees it this summer as two sessions are offered to 15 non-degree students, including one each from Honduras and Japan and 13 from China’s Shanghai Business School. The latter group will take a TOEFL preparation class and remain at Mercyhurst fall semester to study a combination of IEP and classes in their majors, primarily English and computer systems, and then return to China to continue their undergraduate work.

In the fall Mercyhurst will welcome about 15 newcomers to the Intensive English Program,
many of whom will continue in the spring, and some of whom are expected to enroll in Mercyhurst as full-time students for the 2015-2016 school year. This group hails from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Poland.

Under the IEP, students will have up to two academic years, or four semesters, to reach proficiency required to enroll at the university as full-time, undergraduate or graduate students.

“In recent years, Mercyhurst has been increasing its competitiveness in recruiting international students,” said Daliang Wang, associate professor of world cultures. “Offering the Intensive English Program will only increase recruiting efforts, helping even more international students become global citizens.”

Mercyhurst’s Intensive English Program received approval through the Middle States accrediting board on August 6, 2013, and also with the Student Exchange Visitor Program on November 8, 2013.