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UGC to launch New Arrangement to Sponsor Collaborative Language Enhancement Projects

The University Grants Committee (UGC) announced today (February 10) the launch of a new arrangement to sponsor and support UGC-funded institutions' collaborative projects on the promotion of language proficiency. The new arrangement will replace the Common English Proficiency Assessment Scheme (CEPAS).

CEPAS is a voluntary scheme which subsidises final year students of UGC-funded undergraduate programmes to take an internationally validated English test, i.e. the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The Chairman of the Quality Assurance Council of the UGC, Sir Colin Lucas, said, "CEPAS has been implemented for nine years. It has achieved its original purposes of enhancing students' awareness of the importance of English proficiency and providing a wealth of information on students' strengths and weaknesses in English. It is time to move beyond encouraging students to take language tests to an arrangement that can provide direct funding support for institutions' joint projects that aim to enhance students' language proficiency."

The UGC has agreed to provide direct funding support of up to $30 million for UGC-funded institutions' joint projects under the new arrangement to sponsor collaborative language enhancement projects in 2012-15. In recognition of the growing importance of Chinese, the arrangement will be extended to cover collaborative projects to enhance proficiency in Chinese. As institutions are stepping up their language enhancement efforts in the new four-year curriculum, the UGC hopes that this new arrangement gives timely support to institutions to help them make a genuine impact on students' language proficiency in a collective and more efficient manner.

With a view to promoting collaboration in language enhancement, the UGC has already agreed to give funding support for two collaborative projects initiated by some of the UGC-funded institutions for implementation in 2012 to 2013, i.e. the further development of the Diagnostic English Language Tracking Assessment to track students' learning progress; and the development of online-self-access English language learning materials and a repository.

The UGC Chairman, Mr Edward Cheng, said, "Language proficiency is an essential quality of globally competitive graduates. It is beyond doubt that language enhancement will remain a priority high on the UGC's agenda. Our support for collaborative projects on language enhancement demonstrates the UGC's commitment to enhancing language proficiency of our students.

Sir Colin Lucas added, "We count on institutions' continued support for and diligence in this important endeavour and look forward to the receipt of proposals for collaborative language enhancement projects from the institutions."

The last round of CEPAS will be held in 2013/14, covering most of the students enrolled in the current academic year (2011/12).

Ends/Friday, February 10, 2012