Higher Education Bilingual Policy-Promoting The Program on Bilingual Education for Students in College (BEST)
In response to the globalization and development trends of digital technology, international communication is an indispensable ability for the new generation of talent in our nation, and international communication is also a key requirement for the international plans of national key industries. The Ministry of Education (MOE) will launch the "The Program on Bilingual Education for Students in College" in September, 2021, so that students will not only stand at the forefront of international professional knowledge, but also develop the abilities to communicate and cooperate with international professionals and work globally. This new program will focus on promoting the two main points of "cultivation of major domains" and "popularized enhancement" to strengthen students' English proficiency, promote English-taught courses or English as a Medium of Instruction Courses (EMI) and enhance the overall international competitiveness of higher education.
The MOE stated that our third-year senior high school students’ and teachers’ English proficiency has reached a certain level which is a foundation for the MOE to launch "The Program on Bilingual Education for Students in College" (hereinafter referred to as BEST). According to a survey conducted in 2020-2021 by the MOE and the British Council, approximately 21% of the third-year students in senior high schools in our nation have reached the B2 fluency level or above as referenced in "The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages" (CEFR). This survey indicated that one-fifth of third-year senior high school students have the basic abilities to study English-taught courses; in terms of teachers, nearly 7,000 university and college teachers have the abilities to teach in English.
The bilingual program includes the two important strategic plans of "cultivation of major domains" and "popularized enhancement", and these two plans are outlined and explained as follows:
• Cultivation of major domains will select and subsidize the universities and colleges which are more developed with international competitiveness to transform to beacon bilingual schools or to transform the professional domains academies to beacon bilingual colleges to cultivate bilingual professionals in professional fields, and serve as models for promoting bilingual education for domestic universities and colleges. The goal is that there will be 3 beacon bilingual schools by 2024, and there will be 6 beacon bilingual schools by 2030. The goal is that there will be 18 beacon bilingual colleges by 2024, and there will be 30 beacon bilingual colleges by 2030. Performance goals will set students’ performance as the key performance indicators, which include improving students' English abilities and bilingual professional abilities. Each school (or college) has to achieve at least the following goals:
(1) Achieving “25-20-20” by 2024: At least 25% of sophomores in beacon universities and colleges reach effective operational proficiency and mastery above CEFR B2 in listening, speaking, reading, and writing by 2024, and at the same time, at least 20% of the sophomores and first-year graduate students take more than 20% of English-taught course credits for the year.
(2) Achieving “50-50-50” by 2030: At least 50% of sophomores in beacon universities and colleges reach effective operational proficiency and mastery above CEFR B2 in listening, speaking, reading, and writing by 2030, and at the same time, at least 50% of the sophomores and graduate students take more than 50% of English-taught course credits for the year. In addition, the graduation certificate with EMI course certification will be promoted in order to be in line with international trends and the business world.
• Popularized enhancement aims to encourage all universities and colleges to improve overall teachers' English teaching abilities as well as students' English abilities. The goal is that there will be 20 schools for promoting popularized enhancement by 2024, and 40 schools for promoting popularized enhancement by 2030. At least the following goals will be achieved:
(1) English courses are English-taught: Over 30% of English courses are English-taught courses for at least 20 universities and colleges by 2024 and over 80% of English courses are English-taught courses for at least 40 universities and colleges by 2030; gradually promoting the English teaching content of professional orientation (ESP、EAP、EWP) to gradually assist students to take EMI courses.
(2) Encouraging students to take EMI courses: At least 5% of sophomores and first year graduate students in 2024 take at least one English-taught course. At least 10% of sophomores and first year graduate students in 2030 take at least two English-taught courses.
In addition, the program includes the "expansion of bilingual manpower" and "resource sharing and inter-school cooperation". From 2021 to 2024, 2.5 billion dollars will be invested into the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program to assist universities and colleges to gradually optimize the bilingual environment of higher education, strengthen EMI teaching energy, promote school cooperation and enable the campus culture of whole English learning to spread to all parts of the nation in order to move towards the bilingual nation goal.