I am writing to express my concerns regarding the effect of the admissions of academically unqualified international students on the learning environment at Miami University.
I am a faculty member teaching mainly undergraduate courses. Typically, my classes consist of 20 students and I will usually have one to four international students enrolled. There has been increased enrollment in the past few years of international students in my courses. In one course, there are 15 international students out of 22. The vast majority of these students hail from China, but the following issues apply to students of other nationalities as well.
I welcome the diversity in the classroom. It is a pleasure working with international students who are equipped to contribute to class discussions and share their unique viewpoints with the non-international students. It is beneficial for all the students involved to have the experience of working in diverse groups in order to accomplish academic goals. It is a pleasure helping international students succeed on in-class exams, clarifying out of class reading and writing assignments and the like. Student success is the reward of teaching.
What I do not welcome is dead weight.
For the collegiate level, the displayed English literacy of our international students is abhorrent. The majority of these students do not have the conversational skills to follow along with lecture materials or to contribute to large or small group discussions. The majority of these students do not have the English reading and writing skills to read and comprehend in class exams, out of class reading assignments or out of class writing assignments.
I cannot fathom why an institution such as Miami University would accept the quality of student as I am seeing in many of the international students. I know that they go through a rigorous admissions process and I am wondering where this process is failing the university, and more importantly, the student. Are we accepting them merely to commend ourselves on our diversity or for financial gain? Whatever our reason, we are setting these students up to fail. We are wasting their time and their money.
Besides being a burden upon themselves and upon the educators at this institution, one must also consider the implications that significant percentages of failing or low-performing students have on the general class population. What I am seeing and hearing from students is that they are highly frustrated by the lack of academic ability visible in many international students in the classroom setting.
First, the level of disengagement the international students display during class is downright disrespectful to the point of being infuriating to the non-international students.
As a classroom leader, I have addressed the use of cellphones, laptops and talking many times and in many formats and my students have taken the matter into their own hands, as well. This disregard for common courtesy to the class as a whole is a major distraction for students.
You may be asking why I, as an instructor, am not doing more to engage these students, why I am not being a stricter disciplinarian. Believe me, I have been trying. There is a point where I must make a decision as to who deserves more of my time - those students who put in the time and effort, those who come to class prepared, those who are engaged or those who I must baby every step of the way. I am here to do my job of helping students who want to do their job. I am not here to coax and prod along the students who are not capable of doing their job.
Secondly, when one portion of the class sets the bar low, the rest of the class conforms to that standard. It is an uphill battle to raise the bar after it has been lowered. This is a sad fact of education that instructors have been fighting against for ages. Miami prides itself on providing a top-notch education to every student. We cannot have one sector of the student population negatively affect other sectors of our student population.
I am sening this letter of concern anonymously as I am concerned that revealing my name could harm my trajectory within Miami. Incidentally, it is a sad fact that faculty is made to feel unsafe to bring concerns such as these to the attention of the university for fear of being labeled "racist" or "anti-equal opportunity." I want you to know that these concerns are not just my own; they are concerns of many faculty members and many students who are afraid to come forward. I expect you to take these concerns into deepest consideration and reevaluate your admissions policies especially regarding language proficiency of international students.
A Concerned Faculty Member