Editorial | Pitt should find alternatives for students looking to learn English


TPN File Photo

Students walk to classes on the first floor of Cathedral of Learning.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

Pitt’s English Language Institute is closing after almost 60 years of operation at the University. The ELI helped students whose first language isn’t English learn with intensive classes, but because of a recent lack of demand, the University was losing money.

Many students enrolled in the institute’s classes still need a way to learn English, and just because there is less demand than before doesn’t mean that it’s a useless resource. International students deserve to have access to resources that help them succeed in a university setting, and Pitt needs to provide spaces for students to learn English if they need to.

It is already difficult to be an international student who is thousands miles away from their family and their home country. And having to learn a whole new language in order to succeed makes it even more difficult. Having a proper space in which students can practice their English language skills is extremely important for their success at a university with classes taught almost entirely in English.

While the University says it will try to provide some programs to supplement the loss of the English Language Institute, these programs rely on other English-speaking students volunteering their time rather than having a fixed program for students who need help with their English skills to rely on. Pitt should have more concrete programs put in place for students to learn a crucial skill for their college education — language.

Additionally, the University not seeing an essential program as financially viable is a despicable excuse. If Pitt has the funds to completely revamp upper campus or funnel more money into the sports programs, it definitely has the money to keep an essential service going. Learning English is one of the most important things that can help bolster the education of international students who have left their home countries in the pursuit of learning. They shouldn’t be barred from this because the University claims to lose too much money from it.

The leaders of the English Language Institute requested more time from the University to recover financially from the COVID-19 pandemic, which the University ignored and closed the ELI. And if they really are just going to shut it down without waiting for the institute to bounce back from a financially hard time for everyone, they need to create an adequate program to replace it.

Not only did the English Language Institute teach intensive language courses for international students, but it also intended to provide the essential service of teaching students about the American higher education system, which is notoriously confusing. Abolishing a place where international students could get to the same level of language that their American peers are at is holding them back. They should have the ability to get to the level of English learning that helps them in college, and the University should invest in helping these students succeed.

Rather than focus solely on profits, the University should also find ways to give all of its students the best experience possible.