||Language students caught up in Christchurch quake
Language students from Japan, Korea, Thailand and China were sadly victims of the devastating earthquake that shook Christchurch in New Zealand in February this year. Thirty-seven foreign students were unaccounted for from King’s Education Centre, which was located in the Canterbury TV building that was completely destroyed when the quake hit.
Ten of those were from Toyama College of Foreign Language; part of a group of 23 Japanese students who were eating lunch at King’s Education College when the quake hit.
The rest of the group was luckier 19-year-old Kento Okuda survived although his crushed leg was amputated at the scene. He told Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper, “As we were eating lunch, there was a major shaking, and suddenly the floor fell… And then I realised I was in total darkness, with my right leg pinned by something so I couldn’t move.” Most of the Japanese students were 19 years old, although two who were rescued were in their 60s.
A brother and sister from Korea, six Thai student nurses and a student from China were also among those missing as well as nine of 15 staff. Forty-six people were missing in total and a further 35 were simply listed as “status unknown”. A statement on the King’s website stated, “Lunch at Kings had started at 12.30pm so a number of personnel were thankfully out of the building... the earthquake effectively demolished the building.”
Kings Colleges opening two new schools in UK and US
In a transatlantic double-opening, Kings Colleges are unveiling two new school centres in April, one in Oxford, UK a city-centre location to complement its existing school and one in Los Angeles, USA in glamorous Hollywood.
“We are delighted to be opening our first USA college in the heart of Hollywood,” said Jose Flores, Director of Kings Colleges. “As the only international college in Hollywood, we aim to give our students an unforgettable learning and lifestyle experience in this iconic area of LA”. The new US branch of Kings Colleges is situated between Sunset and Hollywood Boulevard.
Meanwhile, the Oxford site is a five-storey building that has been renovated to become a modern study setting. “This signature building in the heart of the city is... a superb city-centre learning environment in this world renowned academic city,” said Kings’ Simon Fenn.
Tax issue progress in Malta
The Maltese government has agreed to offer a partial rebate on its two per cent tax hike on accommodation providers.
The VAT increase, from five per cent to seven per cent, came into effect in January this year, and a number of schools complained that they had already taken bookings from students for accommodation and required a grace period to absorb the extra charges into their prices.
Now, a partial rebate will be paid back to those in the industry, according to the Times of Malta, which will be capped at e1.5 million (US$2 million).
Cambridge Esol honours Polish links
Examinations body Cambridge Esol held a commemorative event at the Sikorski Institute in London, UK, earlier this year to mark a 70-year-long relationship with Poland. The first Poles to sit a Cambridge examination were part of the war effort, and, as Cambridge Esol’s Christine Nuttall explained, Poles continued to take the test in large numbers after 1941, “with numbers growing throughout the war, and the immediate post-war years, peaking in 1948 when on one day in March nearly two and a half thousand men and women from the Polish Resettlement Corps took the Lower Certificate in English in specially arranged exam sessions all over the UK.”
During this event, a group of candidates from the 1940s were reunited to mark the anniversary in a touching ceremony. This included veteran Eugene Borysiuk who proudly brought along his original Cambridge certificate.
Study Travel Magazine Hothouse Media’s new umbrella brand
After publishing Language Travel Magazine for 21 years and sub-brands Education Travel Magazine and Work Wise for 13 and five years respectively, Hothouse Media has decided to rebrand its flagship magazine to reflect the wider focus and evolution of the international education industry.
Still retaining its sub-brands throughout the publication, Study Travel Magazine will be a better-oriented brand to reflect the realities of the industry and our diverse editorial portfolio. Scott Wade, Hothouse Media Director, commented, “From our regular Advisor Surveys, we can see that our readers are involved in more than just language travel placements these days, with most professional study travel advisors working in language, high school, higher education and possibly internship segments of the broad study travel industry. Our new brand, which will evolve over time, is going to be better placed to tap into industry evolution and change.”
Study Travel Magazine will be attending the Nafsa Conference in the USA in May, where the concept of education advisors is still most closely associated with the higher education sector, rather than the language travel realm. Nick Stevenson, Sales Executive of Study Travel Magazine, said, “I am excited about taking our repositioned brand into the US market and enabling the North American market to understand that we write about so much more than language travel.”
Australia charts visa decline
Australia has released a Student Visa Program report that charts a decline in international student arrivals in down 18.9 per cent between 2008/9 and 2009/10. The comprehensive report produced as part of the government’s commitment to improve information exchange with the education export industry also reveals that higher education and postgraduate research were the two areas that had remained the most stable in terms of demand, year-on-year (unlike English/Elicos and vocational sectors).
“This report provides the information the international student sector has been seeking to better track emerging student visa trends,” announced Chris Bowen, Australia’s Immigration Minister. He sought to highlight the positives, such as the fact that half of all offshore student visa applications are processed within 12 calendar days.
China was the most important student provider country overall, followed by India, Korea, Thailand and Brazil, in terms of visas granted. Just over 41 per cent of all student visa holders in Australia on 30 June 2010 were Indian or Chinese citizens. Just over half of all student visa holders were studying in the higher education sector. In terms of visa application success, the vocational sector had the lowest grant rate, at 75.8 per cent, while 91.8 per cent of English (Elicos) visas were approved.
UK MPs visit Brighton to hear evidence
Members of the UK Home Affairs Select Committee travelled to Brighton to hear evidence from up to 70 universities, colleges and English language schools in February. The only open session held outside Westminster saw strong opposition raised to the prospect of raising the English language requirement to B2. However, some of those attending the session held at Brighton Town Hall did call on the government to make one restriction restricting the ability to issue Student Visitor Visas (as opposed to Student Visas) to Highly Trusted Sponsors only.
Some MPs at the session voiced support for the sector. Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton, said, “I do think this issue can be won,” talking about the B2 language level requirement. “There is cross-party support that there are better ways of resolving this problem.” After the session, MPs visited nearby Bellerbys College where they met with some international students.
Tony Millns, Chief Executive of English UK, used his turn giving evidence before the committee to slam the system of approving accreditation bodies working in the international sector pointing out that the initial two-year term for such bodies had lapsed. “Technically, none of the accreditation bodies are approved by the Border Agency,” he told MPs. The government was considering its visa review at the time of going to press.
Contact any advertiser in the this issue now
The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Study Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.