Introduction: In recent years, there has been increased focus on the need of internationalization of the higher education institutions in Spain1. With this purpose, in the academic year 2011/2012, in accordance with the policy for teaching in foreign languages in the higher education supported by the local government (Generalitat Valenciana), the University of Valencia established a “High Academic Performance Group” (HAPG), which employs English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) methodology2 with at least 50% of the core credits delivered in English. The Degree in Pharmacy is one of the 8 degrees at the University of Valencia that currently offer HAPG, with an average of 32 (24-44) students that enroll every year.
Objectives: The aim was to assess several language-related aspects related to EMI in HAPG students.
Methods: 3rd year HAPG students over the academic years 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 were assessed using a multiple-choice questionnaire (anonymous survey). Foreign students were excluded. We explored aspects such as the reason why students enrolled in the HAPG, their initial and their current level of English, the main difficulties they encountered as students that are instructed in English, and their satisfaction with the HAPG teaching.
Results: The survey was taken by 70 students. When asked about the reason of their enrollment in the HAPG, more than 50% of the students replied that it was because it had greater international perspective and promised more internationalization in their future professional development than the ordinary studies. Almost 30% of students stated that they had enrolled in the HAPG because they wished to improve their English. The survey revealed that the level of English of HAPG students is sufficient as to be able to attend the classes and participate in all the activities, however students´ oral skills in English need to be improved. The initial certified level of English of most of the students is B2, obtained mainly by attending extracurricular language schools (>60% of the students); however, an important number of students obtain C1 level while studying the Degree. Of note, the majority of the students (>70%) find enrolling in the HAPG a satisfying experience, even though many (>50%) reported that the teachers’ level of English is “satisfactory but needs to be improved”.
Conclusion: Students that enroll in the HAPG in the Degree of Pharmacy have a satisfactory level of English, obtained from their previous education; however, this competence in the context of EMI particularly regarding their oral skill needs to be improved. HAPG students find internationalization an import aspect of their studies. We do not observe major differences in any of the parameters assessed over the studied years (2018-2020).