|Australian visa assessment levels reduced
Immigration and Citizenship Minister, Chris Bowen, has announced changes to student visa risk assessment levels that will make it easier for students from several countries to study in Australia.
The changes, which were due to take effect at the end of the last month, apply to 29 different countries and come in response to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) review of assessment level settings, as well as building on measures in last year’s Knight Review of the student visa programme.
“While it was recommended that some assessment levels be increased, I have decided to only implement the reductions in order to best support Australia’s international education sector,” said Bowen. “Lowering the minimum evidentiary requirement for the grant of a student visa for selected countries and visa subclasses is expected to help around 10,500 prospective students,” he added.
Notable changes to key markets include postgraduate research applications from China and India and Vet and Elicos applications from South Korea now being considered at Assessment level 1 the lowest risk category. Other countries to be reassessed include Mexico, Egypt, Indonesia and Turkey. Universities Australia and English Australia both welcomed the decision.
Meanwhile, in the UK international students who show “entrepreneurial flair” while on courses at universities will be allowed to stay in the country and develop their ideas, according to an announcement by Immigration Minister, Damian Green.
A new route will be introduced for non-EU students from April 2013, with a 12-month visa allowing exceptional students to remain. Applicants will have to be sponsored by a university and the visa can be extended to run for a maximum of two years. Green said that the Home Office was addressing criticisms of the decision to remove the post-study work visa, which previously allowed graduates to stay for two years after their course to find a job, and that the new model would attract the brightest students.
Alto report reveals positive outlook
The Association of Language Travel Organisations (Alto) has launched its first survey in the new Alto Pulse quarterly format, with the results showing positive growth and forecasts within the language travel industry.
The survey was completed by 219 language schools and 383 educational agencies worldwide and compared Q4 2011 with the same period in 2010. Fifty three per cent of schools surveyed reported growth, with a further 23 per cent reporting stable numbers. Schools in France (seven surveyed), Ireland (eight) and USA (29) showed the strongest growth figures. Nearly two thirds of all schools were optimistic about the next quarter.
Meanwhile, 46 per cent of agents reported growth, with 28 per cent noting stable numbers. Ukraine, where 10 agencies were surveyed, showed the highest growth performance. Seventy nine per cent of all agencies were positive about next quarter forecasts.
The Alto Pulse survey also classified schools and agencies by size, based on the number of student weeks. Sixty three per cent of the institutions were classed as small schools (less than 10,000 student weeks per year), with 25 per cent as medium (10,000-30,000 weeks), 9.1 per cent as large (30,000-100,000 weeks) and 2.3 as very large (more than 100,000 weeks). Of the agencies, judged by the same student week criteria, 78 per cent were small, 16 per cent were medium, and 5.2 per cent large.
EF opens four new centres in Europe
Language education group, EF Education First, has announced the opening of new schools in Paris, Rome, Madrid and Munich and a new course to meet a growing demand for multilingualism.
“In Europe, employers often ask for English plus either Spanish, French, German or Italian, and we see more and more companies asking for Chinese,” said Mats Ulenius, Vice President at EF. “Young people realise what becoming multilingual will do for their careers and their salary potential. As a result, we see a higher demand from students for courses in all the popular third languages.”
The new flagship French school, EF Paris, is located steps from the opera and boutiques of the 9th arrondissement. Alix Lallement, Director of the school, said, “EF offers a wider range of special interest classes than any other French school in Paris, including a popular French cuisine course taught in the school’s custom-built professional kitchen.”
The Munich school is based in a “stunning” glass building in the trendy Lehel district of the city. “Students want to experience the sights and sounds of the local culture after class, so the location of the school is important,” said EF Munich Director, Jurgen Oehler. EF Madrid is situated in the vibrant Salamanca neighbourhood, while EF Rome is housed in a patrician manor near the famous Piazza Navona.
Furthermore, the EF Multi-Language Year programme has been launched for students determined to become multilingual quickly. Participants can choose two or three of EF’s 41 international language centres worldwide to create a tailor-made, nine-month study tour.
English Australia launches new brand
English Australia, the professional association representing over 100 English language colleges in Australia, has revealed a new brand identity to its key stakeholders.
A new logo has been designed to support the association taking a more proactive role in the promotion of its member colleges, which is aimed to engage global agents and overseas students.
“Over 80 per cent of international students learning English in Australia choose to study with an English Australia member college,” said Sue Blundell, Executive Director of English Australia. “We are therefore in a clear position to lead the industry in engaging across the board with quality colleges, international agents and most importantly, international students.”
Blundell added, “Students who are seeking world class tuition, caring and sensitive support and quality assurance will choose an English Australia member college that can provide the peace of mind these students, their families and recommending agents are looking for.”
The rebranding comes ahead of a busy period of activities culminating in the “Re-shaping our Future” English Australia Conference at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre in September 2012.
Acpet to establish China office
The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (Acpet) has announced plans to open an office in the city of Chongqing, southwest China, later this year.
The role of the office will be to help members lobby the Chinese government for recognition of Australia’s private providers, promote offshore delivery and check quality.
Chongqing was chosen as a location for the office due to its knowledge of the Australian vocational education system; from 2002 to 2007 the Chongqing government received a AUS$18.9 million (US$20.4m) AusAID project in developing Vet training and standards. “They know the Australian Vet system in an extraordinarily deep way,” said Claire Field, Acpet Chief Executive in The Australian. “Their skills shortages are such that they cannot rely on publically funded effort to meet them.”
The new office will provide Acpet members with relevant information on opportunities or potential partnerships in China and minimise the risks associated with offshore delivery, such as poor quality provision and lack of government oversight. “Having someone on the ground does potentially offer an early warning,” added Field.
Meanwhile, Acpet recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a series of events in Sydney, including a higher education forum, international forum and gala dinner (see Grapevine for images).
Zoni expands into London
Zoni Language Centres has acquired South Chelsea College (SCC) in London, UK, marking the chains arrival in the UK market. SCC joins the network of established Zoni centres in New York, Miami Beach and Vancouver.
“South London College and Zoni Language Centres share a common set of values and a commitment to excellent service and instruction for students,” said Zoilo C. Nieto, President and Founder of Zoni. “The combination of New York, Miami Beach, Vancouver and London will create a powerful set of opportunities for our students, agents, faculty and staff, providing further options in our continual quest for the highest quality education.”
SCC was establsihed in 1985 and offers programmes up to degree level in Computing, Business, Travel & Tourism and EFL. The college holds accreditation from the British Accreditation Council (BAC), is a member of the Association of British Language Schools (Abls).
Japan launches new accreditation scheme
The Japan Commission for the Regulation of Overseas Study Services (J-Cross) has been launched as a new system for certifying businesses in the Japanese overseas study industry.
The establishment of J-Cross follows collaboration between Jaos (Japan Association of Overseas Studies), Jata (Japan Association of Travel Agents) and SASC (Study Abroad Support Council). J-Cross will be a “mother institution” for the three organisations, focusing mainly on the financial health of agencies, as well as contractual issues, the accuracy of promotional materials and student deposit safeguards.
Jaos Chairman, Masaru Yamada, said the association had been working on the establishment of J-Cross in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Consumer Affairs Agency and the Tourism Agency and that there was hope the scheme could be coordinated with Felca accreditation in the future. The launch of J-Cross was headed by Manabu Horie, newly appointed President and former Executive Director of the Japan Student Services Organisation (Jasso).
Paris named as best student city
Paris has been named as the world’s best student city 2012 in a first ever location comparison by university rankings company, QS. London was placed second, with Boston in third.
Australia was also a big winner from the results as the only country with two cities in the top ten Melbourne (at four) and Sydney (six). Europe dominated the top of the chart with six cities in the first ten, while the USA, with six, was the individual country with the most cities in the Top 50 list.
Cities of a population of more than 250,000 and with two or more top universities were considered for the survey, which incorporated a number of factors categorised into five areas: university rankings, student mix, quality of living, employer reputation and affordability.