• Mai Duc Nguyen

Speaking Part 3 Revision – Sample Questions and Answers on Universities

Q: Do you think that university education should be free to all students?

A: No, I do not support the view that university education should be free of charge due to the following reasons. First, because private universities charge tuition fees, they will have sufficient financial resources to invest in teaching technologies and increase teachers’ pay. Second, a competitive higher education industry encourages universities to improve their working and research environments to attract and retain talents. However, I agree that there should still be public universities that offer affordable or free courses. This healthy combination of public and private universities will make sure that students, regardless of their financial situations, have access to higher education.

Q: Should students take a gap year before going to university?

A: Yes, I believe that a gap year will benefit students in many ways. By taking a gap year, students can work part-time, take an internship or do voluntary work, and this experience helps them gain new industry skills and enhance their CVs. Furthermore, while being in a gap year, students can spend time developing their language proficiency and the ability to work as a team, which are important to their university studies. For many students, a gap year is simply an opportunity to travel, make new connections and relax after a series of high school exams.

Q: Do the advantages of online learning outweigh the disadvantages?

A: I do not think that there is a correct Yes or No answer, because the answer really depends on the situation and individual. These days, for example, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most universities have switched to online learning to protect the health of students and staff members. Although taking an online course allows students to create flexible learning schedules and save on commuting costs, the disadvantage of virtual education is that students can be easily distracted. In addition, building deep, meaningful relationships with peers and professors is clearly more difficult over Zoom calls than in person.

Q: How can universities foster an environment of diversity and inclusion?

A: To promote an environment in which diversity and inclusion are valued, universities should start with their recruiting efforts. Specifically, universities should offer admissions to students and job positions to staff members coming from different racial, social and economic backgrounds. Another strategy to reinforce a sense of diversity and inclusion is to regularly organize events and activities, such as Culture Days, where students and staff members can share recipes, cultural values and historical stories from their countries. Moreover, universities need to consider different voices and opinions in all their processes, from student council elections to proposals to build a new library. By taking into account different values, beliefs and opinions, which can be contrary to each other, universities will create an environment where students and staff members feel safe, belonged and respected.

Q: Do you agree that a university degree sufficiently prepares students for the world of work?

A: No, I do not agree with the view that a university degree alone helps students excel in the workplace. The problem with many courses at universities is that they are highly theoretical; therefore, students lack the chance to solve real-world problems. Additionally, some textbooks describe case studies and lessons which are from a few decades ago and rarely applicable in the current world of business. Therefore, to most effectively prepare themselves for the modern world of work, students should take part-time jobs or internships during their university studies to strengthen their industry skills. Another way is to take part in courses, on-campus and off-campus, that teach high-demand soft skills, such as communications, time management and public speaking.

Are you curious to know how the COVID-19 pandemic affects higher education? Please watch this video from the Wall Street Journal to learn more.

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