April 2007 issue

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Open Doors - IEP figures in USA are positive

The latest 2006 Open Doors figures produced by the Institute of International Education (IIE) relating to students studying at Intensive English Programmes in the USA reveal that the total number of student weeks recorded increased from 2004 to 2005.

While a “small decline” of 2.2 per cent was cited in the survey in relation to actual student numbers year on year, the more reliable indicator of total number of student weeks increased on 2004 results from 490,122 to 557,311 in 2005 (the 2006 report actually relates to the 2005 calendar year).

This indicates that the average length of stay at US IEPs is increasing. And given that only 164 institutions took part in the 2005 survey – down from 194 in 2004 – the figures are even more encouraging, as 18 per cent fewer IEPs took part.

Don Back, President of the American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP), acknowledged that while top-producing Korea, Japan and Taiwan all showed decreases in student numbers, all three posted increases in stay in the same period. Overall average stay was up by 16.3 per cent. Back blamed any decline in numbers on “competitors in Canada and Australia who are aggressively attacking traditional US markets and have a distinct advantage as [they] do not require a student visa for short-term study”. He noted that members had reported 2006 was a good year and “they are even more buoyant in talking about 2007”.

New framework for UK foundation programmes

A working group of English UK members has spent 18 months working on a plan to develop a consistent framework for foundation programmes that prepare international students for further academic study. The result is an agreed framework or structure for programmes that the working party hopes to take further and see adopted within the National Qualification Framework (NQF) as a national standard for “International Foundation”.

Sue Edwards of Aspect in Bournemouth is Co-Chairperson of English UK and a member of the working party. She explained that while there were many types of foundation programme available, “there is no common policy, joined-up strategy or national framework for curriculum design, quality assurance or level alignment”. The framework was agreed upon in order to avoid confusion for international students and is intended to be a guideline for educators active in this sector.

Edwards said, “Programmes are often called international foundation programmes but there is a lack of consistency in usage of this term. For the first time, [a standardised framework could] bring to providers and universities a clearly defined programme with a level playing field. It will also enhance a transparent understanding [among clients and parents] of the programme they are buying.”

The agreed features of the framework indicate that a foundation programme should incorporate academic English, study and communication skills required for university study; be 26 or more weeks typically in duration; include subject study that is typical of final year of high school; include progression requirements and possibly the offer of a place at university upon completion; and the inclusion of an external exam such as Ielts was also suggested to “ensure further regulation and validity of the programme”.

Saudi scholarships granted for study in NZ

New Zealand is the latest country to benefit from Saudi Arabia’s international scholarship programme for students. Many students have already availed themselves of King Abdullah’s scholarship programme, heading primarily to the USA (see Language Travel Magazine, June 2006, page 29).

The latest announcement from the country has indicated that 300 students from Saudi Arabia will be selected to study in New Zealand – delighting officials there. “The scholarships could be worth more than NZ$10 million (US$6.9 million) a year to the New Zealand economy, based on estimated foreign exchange earnings for an international university student of around NZ$40,000 (US$27,435) a year,” said New Zealand Tertiary Education Minister, Michael Cullen. He added, “This represents a strong endorsement by Saudi Arabia of the quality of our teachers and the excellence of our learning environments.”

New Zealand is taking its new status as a destination for Saudi students seriously, and Cullen said that government agencies and education providers had been reviewing pastoral care and immigration procedures relating to Middle Eastern students. A representative of Education New Zealand had also helped coordinate the programme from within Saudi Arabia to ensure its smooth running. “We are satisfied that the necessary mechanisms are in place,” said Cullen. “There will be a pre-departure briefing for students on living and studying in New Zealand and the students’ progress will be carefully monitored following their arrival here.”

IH forum for Spanish teachers expands

The annual Encuento PrÁctico (Practical meeting) for Spanish teachers around the world, organised by International House Barcelona and educational publisher, Difusión, proved so popular in December that a new venue is to be sought for the 2007 event.

More than 330 Spanish language teaching professionals converged on Barcelona to attend the 15th such training event, with participants from 12 different countries including Germany, Switzerland, the USA, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia. Lucy Davis at IH Barcelona explained, “This conference offers a space in which to exchange experiences, ideas and materials. Specialists from the field are also invited to make presentations focusing on specific areas of Spanish teaching methodology.”

With a waiting list of over 80 Spanish teachers in 2006, next year “we’ll be looking for a large auditorium for the plenary sessions”, confirmed Davis. Among those speaking at the event last December were representatives from the University of Barcelona, UAB, the University of Seville, the Instituto de Cervantes and the University Antonio de Nebrija in Madrid.

Workshops reviewed new trends in evaluation, the importance of discourse analysis and other topics.

New Esos rules for refunds in Australia

New rules on how refunds are handled for international students form some of the first round of amendments to the Education Services for Overseas Students (Esos) Act in Australia, which came into effect on 1 January. More changes, in a revised National Code of Practice, are to be introduced on 1 July.

The main change to date is that education providers are unable to use a written agreement to limit the refund of course fees to students who are unable to start their course because of a visa denial. Circumstances when a refund can be denied are defined by “student default” and include misbehaviour by the student or a breach of their visa conditions.

The Department for Education Science and Training advised providers that from July, when the new National Code is in place, written agreements between providers and students will be compulsory and contain specified information on refunds. Refunds are calculated in accordance with Esos regulations, which allow providers to keep an amount for administrative purposes and a portion of fees if the student has already started their course.

First Feltom-accredited school in Malta

The first Maltese English language school to undergo the accreditation process that is overseen by the language schools’ association, Feltom, was awarded a Certificate of Accreditation at Feltom’s AGM earlier

this year. Donald Brincat from BELS in Gozo accepted the certificate for the first school to have undergone a process that becomes mandatory for all members in January 2008.

Feltom’s independent accreditation council is expected to be busy this year dealing with accreditation applications and Isabella Conti, Executive Secretary of the association, said that the board had voted to waive the entrance fee for new members to join the association this year. “This should encourage more non-member schools, whose membership is subject to accreditation, to join Feltom,” she said.

At the AGM, President, John Dimech, was re-elected for another term.

UK universities to demand language skills

There are signs that several prestigious UK universities will follow the lead of University College London (UCL), which has announced that from 2012, in principle, all university candidates will be required to have a foreign language GCSE to be considered as an undergraduate applicant.

The reason for the decision is that the institution wants to encourage language learning in UK schools; currently, students can drop foreign languages at 14. A review of the current policy, commissioned by the UK Education Secretary, Alan Johnson, has indicated that this is not likely to change in the near future but greater focus will be made on language learning at primary level.

At UCL, Vice Provost, Michael Worton, said, “We describe ourselves as London’s global university and we feel it’s essential that students have an understanding of how another language operates and knowledge of another culture.” Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford University are reported to be considering a similar move.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Britannia Student

English Australia
Perth Education City
Quality English

Student Guard

Alphe Conferences
CEC Network
ICEF Online
Language Travel
       Magazine Star

Language Travel

Malta Tourism

English Australia
Perth Education City

Bodwell College
College of New
Immersion Baie-des-
National School of

Mandarin House

Global Study
       (Karlov College)

Basil Paterson
Bell International
Britannia Student
English Studio
Frances King
       School of English
IH London
ILS Nottingham
LAL Language
       and Leisure
       (England, Malta,
       South Africa, USA)
Living Learning
Malvern House
       College London
Oxford Intensive
       School of English
       (Australia, England,
       France, Germany,
       Spain, USA)
Quality English
Queen Ethelburga's
St Giles Colleges
       (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group
       (Australia, Canada,
       England, France,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, New Zealand,
       South Africa,
       Spain, USA)
SUL Language
West Devon English
       Language School

Eurolingua Institute
       (Argentina, Austria,
       Australia, Belgium,
       Brazil, Canada,
       Chile, China,
       Colombia, France,
       Greece, Ireland,
       Italy, Japan,
       Malta, New
       Zealand, Spain,
       South Africa,
       Portugal, UK, USA)
SILC - Séjours
       (England, France,
Home Language
       Australia, Austria,
       Brazil, Canada,
       Chile, China,
       Czech Republic,
       Denmark, Egypt,
       Finland, France,
       Germany, Holland,
       Hungary, Ireland,
       Italy, Japan, Malta,
       NZ, Norway,
       Poland, Portugal,
       Russia, Spain,
       Switzerland, UK,
       USA, Venezuela)

Prolog- International
       House Berlin

Atlantic Language
Dublin City University
Dublin School of
Galway Cultural
High Schools
       (Australia, Canada,
Swan Training


EC - English
       Language Centres
       (England, Malta)
Malta Tourism

       Management AB
       (Russia, Ukraine)

University of

       Language School
Malaca Instituto -
       Club Hispánico SL

EF Language
       Colleges Ltd
       Canada, China,
       Ecuador, England,
       France, Germany,
       Ireland, Italy,
       Malta, New
       Zealand, Russia,
       Scotland, Spain,

ALCC - American
ELS Language
Hun School of
       Princeton, The
inlingua School of
Kaplan Educational
       Centers (Canada,
       England, USA)
University of Illinois
       at Urbana-
Zoni Language
       (Canada, USA)


Global Lifestyles
IH Vancouver
National School of

Tellus Group
Training Partnership
       Ltd. (The)
Twin Group

International House
       Sevilla - CLIC