BAPTIST University students must pass an English test in order to graduate in a policy introduced amid concern over local graduates' falling language standard. Vice-chancellor of the university, Dr Daniel Tse Chi-wai, said yesterday the new policy was to ensure university graduates possessed a certain level of language proficiency. 'This is a question of responsibility to the society,' Dr Tse said. The new policy will apply to the current first year students and all future intakes, regardless of their disciplines. There are about 1,300 freshmen a year at the university. The standards required of the students vary for different disciplines. For example, English Literature undergraduates have to attain a higher standard than science students. It is expected they can improve from the minimum entrance requirement, which is a pass (grade E or above) at the Use of English exam. Students have to go through a written and an oral test during their three-year course, or as an exit test before they graduate. Those who fail have to re-take the tests until they pass, as one of the criteria for the granting of an undergraduate certificate - believed to be the first such policy in the tertiary sector. Dr Tse said lecturers had found that both the English and Chinese language standards of students were declining. He believes the university's senate would also soon discuss the introduction of a similar test on Chinese language. There might even be a test on Putonghua for students taking China Studies, he added. Courses on Chinese and English languages are compulsory at the university. Dr Tse said the 80 per cent pass rate of the Use of English this year could not fully reflect the students' language standard. He said the increase in subjects required might have led to less time for language. Director of Education Lam Woon-kwong said graduates needed to have better language proficiency to work in the growing service industries.