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Canadian center to give English proficiency tests in Kingdom.

Byline: K.S. Ramkumar

JEDDAH: Students heading for Canada to pursue higher education can now qualify themselves for university admissions in Saudi Arabia. This follows the efforts of the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Canadian Education Network to make the UBC English testing program available in the Kingdom.

Some 90 percent of the students from the Kingdom fail to secure direct admission to the university of their choice due to their failure to qualify themselves, thus entailing an unnecessary expenditure in travel and stay in Canada.

"The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) will now be part of a university foundation program to be delivered at the Kingdom Schools in Riyadh," CEN President and CEO George S. Chrysomilides told Arab News.

"Soon we will have similar arrangements in Jeddah to be followed later in the Eastern Province," said Chrysomilides, who was accompanied by his wife Sonia and by Mohamed M. Attar, honorary consul for Canada and president of the Council for Honorary Consuls.

The foundation program has been developed by the Vancouver-based CEN following 15 years of experience as an educational counseling service supporting the needs of students in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula.

The foundation has several components including English, math and science courses considered to be fundamental prerequisites for students majoring in business and science.

"Currently, Saudi students who select Canada for higher education spend an average of two years taking foundation courses, which are not necessarily part of the degree program. This increases their overall cost of education by about $100,000," Chrysomilides said, adding that Canadian education is subsidized by the government and that can be up to 50 percent cheaper than in the United States.

"Besides the cost, many young students, fresh out of high school, are confronted with cultural changes and student requirements very different from the ones they are used to when living in the Kingdom. The sudden shock could be the cause of failure of some students who cannot handle these new challenges and return home without completing their studies," Attar said.

CEN, in collaboration with the UBC and the Kingdom Schools, will deliver CELPIP testing, preparation and the foundation program in Riyadh. Students who register in the program will be attending classes five days a week for a four-hour session per day.

Classes will be held late afternoon or early evening hours. The program has five levels and hardworking students can complete each level within a three-month term. A placement test will determine each student's level of entry.

Sonia said some 10 percent of the Kingdom's students evincing interest in Canada's higher education were girls.

Copyright: Arab News 2009 All rights reserved.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Feb 18, 2009
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