The University of Prince Edward Island student union says a program designed to help international students with their English is robbing them of their work and should be changed.

If an international student doesn't pass the English entrance exam they can enroll in the English academic preparation (EAP) program, which is designed around the student's academic year.

Johnathan Rix, vice-president UPEI student union

Vice-president Johnathan Rix says the UPEI student union wants to see credit given to the students for learning a second language. (CBC)

As their language improves they are allowed to take more credit courses or specific English as a second language classes.

They pay regular fees for the program but don't get credits.

Johnathan Rix, vice-president of the UPEI student union, said that's unfair and he and his team are trying to change the system.

"They spend all this money on this program, but they'll never receive a credit for it," said Rix.

"What we'd like to see is some semester hours awarded at the end of your completion to recognize that you did a lot of good academic work and you mastered a new language."

A lot to consider

Freya Qi, who completed the EAP program and now works with international students likes the idea.

"It's necessary, so even though it's not credited I think it's still important to do it, but in the future, if it's going to be credited, that would be great," she said.

But she's heard from some students who decided to pay for English courses at home instead and feel they should be credited too.

There is a lot to consider before any changes are made, said Cathy Gillan, director of the university's English language program.

"Any course that is given credit must be taught by a professor and so we just have to make sure that we have everything in order to be able to offer these programs without unduly increasing the price," said.

The student union will meet with the administration in the next couple of weeks, but a final decision will come from the university senate.