April 2003 issue

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One association for UK ELT?

Following plans to produce at least 100,000 copies of a joint promotional guide to English language services in the UK, associations Arels and Baselt have revealed that talks are currently underway regarding the formation of one super-association for UK language providers.

Provisionally titled 'English UK', the association is currently being debated across the UK during regional meetings between Baselt and Arels members. Tony Millns, Chief Executive of Arels and a member of the joint working party, told Language Travel Magazine that members that had been canvassed had, at the time of going to press, largely backed the idea of one association representing the majority of accredited providers in Britain.

If English UK goes ahead, the new unified association will rival other associations such as English Australia in Australia and Appel in New Zealand as a single association representing the majority of quality English language providers in the country. With at least 320 members, it will also be the largest association of its type in the industry. In other countries, such as Canada, membership of industry associations is still diverse and segregated.

One reason for the development of the idea, Millns explained, was the international competition faced by the UK from countries such as Australia, Ireland and Canada. He noted that in some cases, overseas ELT organisations achieved stronger support from their government agencies and better coordinated marketing. English UK would be expected to fit into the bigger Education UK brand, which markets all education opportunities in the UK to prospective students.

Baselt, the British Association of State English Language Teaching, represents English language schools in the state sector, and as Millns pointed out, there are more similarities in procedures and practices than differences between many Baselt members and private language schools belonging to Arels, the Association of Recognised English Language Services.

'The proposal of one association has met with strong support from the Baselt executive committee and the Arels general council,' he added.

The outcome of membership consultation will determine whether English UK will be created and if so, how long the process will take. Millns commented, 'The fastest track would be general meetings in autumn this year and a new association at some point in 2004.'

Record sales for UK in 2001, report reveals

A recently released report shows that despite the problems in 2001 that afflicted the UK industry, such as foot-and-mouth disease and the worldwide alarm following September 11, the financial performance of UK schools was better than 2000 in many cases.

Record sales and profits were noted at a number of companies. A majority of schools increased their turnovers over 2000 and the profitability and profit margins of many improved.

These findings were revealed following a study of the financial results of 70 English language schools for the 2001 financial year (ending in Dec 2001).

Topping the table as the UK school group with the highest turnover was Study Group, which was followed by Bell, St Giles, Linguarama and St Clares, Oxford. Study Group and Bell both posted a turnover in excess of UK£15 million.

Compared with the results of the same survey for the 2000 financial year, Aspect ILA's turnover had decreased, and the company was in sixth position in the league table, followed by EF, Eurocentres, Regent Language Training and English Language Services (International House).

OISE was excluded from the research as its sales and profits figures had not been available.

Brian McCallen, author of the report, said, 'Forty-four schools or two-thirds of the total managed to increase their sales in 2001 and more than a dozen boosted their income by more than 20 per cent.'

He added that 14 schools returned to profit in 2001, while nine schools that were profitable in 2000 made losses in 2001.

Source: The Financial Performance of UK EFL Schools: 2001. Enquiries: Brian.McCallen@tesco.net

USA must do better, says Nafsa

A taskforce set up to look at international student recruitment issues in the USA has concluded that serious efforts must be made to maintain and build the USA's share of international students in the current competitive climate.

Nafsa, Association of International Educators, organised a task force to look into the issue prior to September 11, 2001. Its findings are more relevant than ever now, argues Victor C Johnson, Nafsa's Policy Director. 'There has been a sense that international students will just keep coming to the USA because they always have,' he said. 'That is no longer true.'

The task force highlights four priorities for improvement to arrest the decline in the USA's share of the student market. Primarily, it calls for a recruitment strategy that specifies roles for the Departments of State, Commerce and Education, and a rational approach to visa issuance and student migration. 'People need to make balanced visa decisions, instead of thinking the only safe answer is 'no',' said Johnson.

The other recommendations made by the task force include a comprehensive website providing potential students access to all the information they require about higher education options in the USA, and the implementation of scholarships, loans and tuition exchanges, to enable students less able to afford study overseas to consider the USA as an option.

Limit on students in NZ?

There has been speculation in the New Zealand press that the Education Minister, Trevor Mallard, is considering introducing a cap on the number of Chinese students entering the country, following concerns about a surge of students in New Zealand.

However, in an article in The Press newspaper, Mallard denied this, saying that although the idea had been raised in a meeting with the Association of Private Providers of English Language (Appel), it was not under consideration. 'We are looking at how to limit numbers of foreign fee-paying students,' he said, 'but... focusing on school-age students. No decisions have been made yet on how numbers might be limited.'

Language Travel Magazine reported in February that the Post-Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) had called for a five per cent limit on overseas enrolment in schools (see February issue, page 4). Education providers have also expressed concern that increasing numbers of students and English language schools in the country will diminish the availability of quality host families.

New Spanish association in Spain

Joining the ranks of Olé and Fedele in Spain is Gadele, 'Escuelas con encanto', a new association that has been created to represent the interests of schools in the region of Cadiz, in the southwest of Andalucia.

One of Gadele's main aims is to offer students exchange possibilities, so they can enrol at one school and study at another of the five member schools in the association. Member, Ian Walsh, of Trinity School in El Puerto de Santa María, explained that the first activity of the association is to generalise courses between members so that student exchange will be easy.

Formed this year, Gadele - which stands for Asociación Gaditana de Escuelas de Español como Lengua Extranjera - also hopes to bring the region of Cadiz to greater prominence among agents and students. 'The province is famous for sandy beaches, its art, folklore, gastronomy and above all, its charm and people,' said Walsh. 'We want to give students the possibility to move around Cadiz under the protective umbrella of an association.'

Korea has best education system, says Unicef

A study by Unicef's Innocenti Research Centre has compiled a list of education systems scaled according to performance, based upon five cross-national inquiries. South Korea and Japan sit at the top of the league table, followed by Finland, Canada and Australia.

'The league table provides the first big picture comparison of the relative effectiveness of education systems across the developed world,' said Unicef.

Following the top-five countries were Austria, the UK, Ireland, Sweden and the Czech Republic. The USA came in at position 18, followed by Germany at 19. Data was gathered from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

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