Canada poised for action
Languages Canada celebrated its first birthday at its annual conference in February and reunited its members representing the private and public education sectors in a common aim to ensure Canada is competitive in the global market.
A real sense of cohesion and action was felt among members, said President of Languages Canada, Calum MacKechnie, who outlined that accessing the EduCanada brand was one of the primary goals of the assocation in its second year.
Last year, Canada’s immigration department designed and developed a brand to use internationally to promote the country as an education destination around the world (see LTM, Dec 2008, page 6). However, in an ironic twist of fate, given that a precursor association of Languages Canada Capls had lobbied for such a brand, only public-sector institutions are currently able to use it, despite suggestions that Languages Canada members will be included in a further roll-out. No clear agreement on brand use between provinces is the reason for the cause of the delay.
“One of our main goals is the authority to use the brand,” said MacKechnie, pointing out that it was an estimated CAN$2 million (US$1.6 million) initiative that has, as yet, only benefited a small part of Canada’s international education industry. Other aims for the association are further lobbying for clear visa rules and a transparent visa process as well as part-time work rights for all students, as is the case in other countries such as Australia, which recently amended rules so that foreign students can start working as soon as they arrive.
The conference featured keynote speaker Dr Jim Barnes, an academic, author and expert about marketing strategy, as well as government representatives. Many concurrent seminars were also held during the two-day event offering professional development advice.
Johanne Lacombe was appointed as Executive Director of the association last year. She said, “I’ve been impressed by what international education represents for Canada how it represents its country and its role as a major economic contributor. The conference underlined very clearly this fact and the importance in promoting this advantage.”
London schools undergo revamp
Two London-based schools have been investing in improving their school surroundings in a bid to enhance the overall study experience for clients. British Study Centres (BSC) follows its modernisation of centres in Brighton and Oxford last year with a new floor in its London premises, Hannah House.
BSC‘s Andrew Roper said, “The new floor will give us a further six classrooms, making a total of 19. It will be a handsome addition to the already well-equipped school with its large university-style library, café, Internet zone and language learning lab.”
Meanwhile, English Studio, which has four sites in London, has overhauled all of its schools to make a modern and trendy setting for foreign students. Mairead Fanning, Owner of the school and an interior designer, said, “Our aim is to be the coolest school in London.” Renovations include e-receptions equipped with wifi. See Grapevine (page 16) for pictures.
Navitas posts record half-year profits
Australian education group, Navitas, posted record interim profits for the half-year ending December 31, 2008, with total group revenue up 34 per cent.
The group announced that its net profit after tax was up 15 per cent to AUS$19 million (US$12.3 million) while revenue was up to AUS$217.4 million (US$141 million). In this six-month period, four new international study centres were set up on campus; Curtin Singapore, the International College of Wales Swansea, Cambridge Ruskin International College in the UK and International College of Manitoba in Canada.
Rod Jones, Chief Executive of Navitas which operates the Australian College of English (ACE) chain in Australia, among others said the group’s revenue growth reflected “the success of its investment approach and the strength of its proven business model”. Navitas focuses strongly on the university sector worldwide but also delivers English language training, workforce education and student recruitment services.
“Navitas has also continued to trade strongly despite the upheaval in international markets,” said Jones, “with the company’s established academic reputation, and marketing and recruitment channels, continuing to deliver volume and value growth.”
The English language training sector of Navitas is likely to be rebranded to “Navitas English”, according to the press announcement, helping to “maximise the association with the broader group”. Second-half earnings for financial year 2009 (January to June) were expected to exceed first-half results, said Navitas.
Jones also hinted that further expansion in North America could be likely. “We believe our business model is ideally suited to this market,” he said.
Japan considers two-year student visa
A panel on immigration reform in Japan has recommended that international student visas be granted for two years rather than one year, in a bid to boost the number of foreign students studying in the country.
Japan is one of the countries in Asia keen to boost its international intake (see LTM, November 2008, page 19), and President Fukuda has announced a target of 300,000 overseas students by 2020.
The panel (the Immigration Control Policy Advisory Council), reporting to the Justice Minister, also recommended separating types of study by two clearly defined terms: “shugaku” or “attending school” for students at high schools and Japanese language schools and “ryugaku” or “studying abroad” for those at university. One reason for this is to eliminate confusion over students who progress from one study type to another while in the country.
Year-long leave to remain in-country and seek employment upon graduation was also suggested, up from the 180 days currently, and cutting the paperwork involved in the visa application process to issue visas within a week instead of a month was also mooted.
Malta builds relationship with Poland
Malta conducted a trade mission to Poland in February this year and is keen to “keep up the momentum” following the delegation’s visit to Warsaw, according to Ambassador, Gaetan Naudi, Malta’s first resident ambassador there. Following a 100-strong party visiting the country, one language school signed an agreement to teach English to Polish students in Malta. And Air Malta has announced that it is launching charter flights to Poland from June.
Supported by Polish tour operators, the charter flights will run until September. Naudi commented, “With Poles, we need to advertise our sun and our sea, while we continue to beat our drums how we can assist them in the learning of English, maximising their communication abilities, and helping them open up with more confidence to the ever-growing English-speaking world.”
Meanwhile, Vietnam has requested more favourable visa conditions for Vietnamese students studying in Australia during the Australian Minister for Immigration’s trip to Hanoi. Australia accepts more Vietnamese students than any other country.
UK provider signs online deal in Iraq
RLI Language Services, a UK company that offers language training in-country and online, has signed a deal with the Iraq Economic Development Group (IEDG) to provide online English tuition to Iraqis via its Gapfillers product (www.gapfillers.co.uk).
Bernadette Wall at RLI, who worked with consultancy SPS UK to secure the deal, explained that they are offering a franchise model so Iraqis can run English language training solutions. IEDG is also in talks with universities in Iraq to make the product available to students.
Wall said that 40 per cent of the population in Iraq is under 14. “The demand for English training will continue to grow and the fastest way of providing materials... is via the Internet,” she said.
New approach to visa processing in the UK and Australia
Five working days could be the norm for turning around a UK student visa application, if new published standards for visa processing by UK authorities prove effective. As the UK ushers in its points-based visa system, it has also taken the step of standardising processing times that visa applicants can expect to wait when they submit a visa application.
Ninety per cent of straightforward, non-settlement applications should be completed in not more than five working days, while 98 per cent should be dealt with in 10 days (and 100 per cent within 60 days). For non-straighforward, non-settlement applications (if more detailed enquiries or a personal interview is required), 90 per cent should be dealt with in not more than 15 working days.
The UK has also announced however that visa fees will be rising, from the current UK£99 (US$141) to UK£145 (US$207).
Meanwhile, Australia, with technology that seems one step ahead, reports that its Visa Entitlement Verification Service (Vevo) that launched last year is being well used. Vevo is a system that allows applicants to lodge an application online, check its status and find out about their visa entitlements. Vevo is slowly replacing visa stamps in passports, keeping visa information located centrally and accessible online not only to visa holders but potential employers or educators.
More and more visa holders are reported to be using Vevo with at least 50,000 people logging on monthly to view their visa details. And some 13,000 organisations were reported to be using the system to check entitlements of visa holders who are seeking to work or study.
New approach to visa processing in the UK and Australia
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