Closing the gap: International student pathways, academic performance and academic acculturation

  • Carol Beth Floyd Learning and Teaching Department, Macquarie University
Keywords: English for Academic Purposes, international students, academic performance, prior learning, academic acculturation, English-language proficiency


International students make an important financial contribution to Australian universities, but the English-language pathways through which they meet enrolment requirements are a source of controversy, with concern focused on English-language proficiency (ELP). This study investigates two major pathways by comparing the academic results and questionnaire responses on backgrounds and academic acculturation of students whose ELP test scores met requirements (the Testing pathway) with those who had to complete prior English-for-Academic-Purposes programs (the EAP pathway) due to below-entry-standard ELP test results. Results were that the EAP students had similar pass rates but lower GPAs than Testing students in the first semester; however, this gap narrowed in the second semester. EAP entrants were also younger, more likely to be Asian and to enrol in the Business & Economics faculty, and more likely to report a higher degree of prior learning in academic skills. This paper suggests that, although it is not known whether EAP graduates reach the required ELP levels after their course, learning in academic skills, as distinct from measurable improvements in ELP, may help to equalise their performance with that of Testing students. The findings also support the benefits of an increased focus on academic acculturation for all international students.

Author Biography

Carol Beth Floyd, Learning and Teaching Department, Macquarie University
Carol Floyd is an English language teacher, curriculum writer and researcher with the English Language Centre at Macquarie University. Her research interests include English-language pathways to university, international student experience, and teaching methodologies in English for Academic Purpose programs.
How to Cite
FloydC. B. (2015). Closing the gap: International student pathways, academic performance and academic acculturation. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 9(2), A1-A18. Retrieved from
Research Articles