Similarly to a number of other British HE institutions, University of Glasgow offers pre-sessional courses for international students aiming to gain a postgraduate degree from the University. The courses constitute an excellent introduction to academic skills and focus on English for Academic and Specific Purposes. Each summer, English for Academic Study runs an intensive training programme consisting of two 5-week blocks. The second block in August focuses on specific subject areas like engineering, accounting and finance, biomedical sciences and so on.
Last year’s STEM group consisted of 45 students, 80% at Masters level and representing the following disciplines:
- Electrical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Software Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Engineering with Management
and we are expecting similar numbers this year. As said above, all the students are in Glasgow to improve their skills in academic English, a requirement for entry to their courses. They are aiming for an overall exit grade equivalent to IELTS 6.5.
As part of the study, our students have to research, then produce a written Subject Specific Essay (SSE) in week 5, following an SPRE format (Situation / Problem / Responses / Evaluation), and to present and accept audience questions on this project. Traditionally, this has been an individual project, but we felt that there is scope for the project to further develop the collaborative skills that students will need when they join their course in September. The aim, therefore, is for our students to work in groups of 3 this year, sharing the research and final presentations, but each producing an individual written project.
We also felt that there is scope to build an element into Block C that will help meet the University’s internationalisation focus. Each Block C STEM group could twin with a pair of students within the Engineering department at IUG, who will provide an initial problem for our students to research.
In the last week of the course, our students’ presentations could be carried out via videolink with IUG, allowing joint participation.
The contacts via synchronous and asynchronous learning environments will of course be valuable in terms of language practice for both groups of students, but team-working, project participation, communication, problem-solving, digital literacies are all transferable skills that will also be enhanced.
We believe this project is of great value to all the students concerned as well as us, educators, working together across borders.
The calendar of planned events and activities can be accessed here.