International Teaching Assistants’ English Proficiency Policy

Testing Schedule

The University attracts talented international graduate students with diverse background from around the world that are often selected as teaching and research assistants. To ensure effective collaboration in this diverse intellectual community, the University expects that all international graduate teaching assistants (ITAs) have the necessary English proficiency to communicate effectively in their instructional duties.

Each academic department is responsible for ensuring that the English proficiency requirement is met. This requirement applies to all graduate assistants employed in classroom or laboratory settings, whether as teaching assistants, instructors, or lecturers.

All international graduate teaching assistants are responsible for certifying that they have the necessary English proficiency required for their teaching assignment(s). Students that have not completed three or more years of undergraduate study at a university in an English-speaking country must take the Versant English oral proficiency test prior to the start of the semester to receive certification for the fulfillment of their TA position. The certification of English proficiency becomes part of the students’ academic and employment record.

International Graduate Teaching Assistants who do not meet the above requirement must enroll in a course offered by the English Language Studies (ELS) Program. ITA’s who score below a 65 on the Versant Test may be assigned teaching tasks. However, they must successfully complete one semester of ELS coursework and pass a teaching assessment before their English proficiency can be certified.¬† Students who are not yet certified must take steps to improve their oral communication skills until certification is achieved.

Approved by the URI Council of Deans, August 2004
Revised to include Verstant Test, August 2011

Certification Parameters

The certification requirement can be met in several ways:

  • Demonstrate completion of three or more years of undergraduate and/or graduate study at a university in an English-speaking country.* Transcripts must be on file at the Graduate School. (e.g. *U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Belize.);
  • Submit an Overall score of 65 or higher on the Versant Test;
  • Submit an Overall score of 55-64 on the Versant Test and demonstrate teaching effectiveness, either through a departmental teaching evaluation.

RA’s, GA’s and TA’s

Please note:

  • GAs or RAs do not need to take the English proficiency test.
  • GAs or RA’s who later become TA’s will be expected totake¬† the test at a later date if given a TA position in future semesters.
  • TAs who score below a 65 on the Versant test, must enroll in ELS 512 (Fall semester) or ELS 612 (Spring semester).
  • All graduate students are eligible to enroll in ELS 512 and 612 whether or not they have an assistantship.

For Information on courses, visit the English Language Studies page.

For non-credit English language free courses, visit Learn English

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