New alliance gives voice to Chinese agencies
A new national alliance has been established in China to give smaller agencies across the country a platform to collaborate and communicate.
Cossa (China Overseas Study Service Alliance) has been founded with the help of Beijing-based association Bossa. Xuewen E, Vice-President of Bossa, said, “The idea is to cover the smaller agencies, especially outside of Beijing, with a few from our local area.” Currently, there are around 50 members, he confirmed, with around half of these from Beijing and applications increasing. Eligible members must be licensed by the Ministry of Education.
“The initiative actually came from the smaller agencies after a conference last year,” Xuewen said. Under current laws at least 50 members are required to create a province-level association, meaning most agencies outside of Beijing were unrepresented.
At the first conference all attendees signed a “convention of honest operation” to abide by laws and regulations. Xuewen said introducing new standards and collaborating with the government in the training of student counsellors were among the new body’s goals. He explained that the Chinese government is moving towards the establishment of a national association, and it was hoped that Cossa would be a prototype for this.
Major changes in the regulation of Chinese agencies are expected this year. Although precise details are still being finalised, the expected outcome is that the power to license agencies will be transferred to provincial governments.
Xuewen said there were currently 444 licensed agencies in China. The government has not approved any new licenses for several years. Therefore, the move to provincial level brings an opportunity to create some new licensed agencies. Another major change is that satellite branches of the major agencies will have to be individually licensed, with the possibility that some provinces will not approve them.
Cossa plans to work closely together with international bodies, including Felca and Nafsa, Xuewen said. A first Cossa workshop is due to be held in June.
Groupement FLE holds Journées Professionelles conference
French language school association Groupement FLE gathered for its annual Journées Professionelles conference in Royan recently.
Attendees from 25 member schools along with other guests gathered for two days of presentations, seminars and the general assembly. There were presentations on how to make the most of participation in agent workshops, maximising Internet communication, the latest version of the Label Qualité FLE and how to work effectively with government and institutional bodies. Centres also took an active part in workshops on quality and collective and company agreements.
Andrew Kinselle, Groupement FLE Spokesman, said the conference was a chance for the association to reflect on a busy few months. “As well as its on-going participation in the advisory council driving the Label Qualité FLE accreditation process, which is being adhered to by more and more French schools, Groupement FLE has also been proactive in meetings with various European and French government authorities in Brussels and Paris, notably intervening on behalf of members to resolve visa problems,” he said.
Late last year, the group also held its annual two-day Journées Pédagogiques in Paris, attended by over 160 teachers and directors of studies from more than 50 different centres in France and abroad.
ELC signs teacher deal with Vietnamese government
English Language Company (ELC) Australia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Vietnam’s Ministry of Education to raise teaching standards and recruit teachers.
Under the Teach and Travel Vietnam programme (TTV), ELC will recruit, train and place up to 500 English teachers per year into the public education system throughout Vietnam.
ELC Managing Director, David Scott, said, “ELC will provide high-quality, well-trained English teachers as well as on-the-ground training and support for them while they are in Vietnam. We will work closely with the Government of Vietnam to raise the standards of English teaching and learning throughout the public education system.”
Applicants with a Tefl qualification can apply for a one-week orientation followed by a one-semester teaching internship, while non-Tefl holders can first take the four-week ELC Certificate of Tefl, delivered in Ho Chi Minh. ELC is looking to work with agents for recruitment onto TTV.
Hillary Clinton unveils China study abroad foundation
The creation of the 100,000 Strong Foundation to enhance and expand opportunities for US students to learn Mandarin and study in China has been announced by outgoing Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The foundation is a new non-profit organisation housed at the American University in Washington, DC, and was borne out of President Obama’s 2010 initiative to increase study in China to 100,000 per year.
Secretary Clinton said at the launch, “I believe that the more Chinese and American people learn about each other as students and scholars, as innovators and entrepreneurs, as artists and athletes, as members of two great, rich and distinct cultures the more resilient our relationship can be.”
The most recent Open Doors data for 2010/11 showed 14,596 USA students heading to China for academic credit courses a five per cent rise while a recent report from the Institute of International Education found that a further 11,000 students were engaged in other study such as language courses.
The foundation seeks to extend this trend by measures including: leading a high-profile national campaign to generate demand; working closely with Washington and Beijing to sustain high-level government support for study abroad; hosting an annual US-China conference; and conducting surveys of the impact of study abroad on relations.
New summer centre for Churchill House
Churchill House School of English Language has announced a new residential summer centre for young learners in Yorkshire, becoming the school’s ninth summer location in the UK.
The new centre will be based at Harrogate Ladies’ College in Yorkshire where three boarding houses can accommodate up to 150 students, with a homestay option also available. Features include modern and spacious classrooms, several computer rooms, indoor and outdoor sports facilities and a newly refurbished dining room.
“Harrogate Ladies’ College (HLC) is a beautiful residential centre set in picturesque landscaped grounds with rich heritage and lots of local ambience,” said Greg Patton, Director of Sales and Marketing at Churchill House.
All Churchill students at HLC will receive 15 hours of tuition, a full afternoon and evening activity programme, full board, a half-day excursion and a full-day excursion each week.
Patton said the school was eager to expand its presence in North England to meet growing demand. “As one of the biggest privately owned summer school providers in the UK, we try to offer our young learners a variety of options in terms of location and course content. We are very keen to establish a hub in the north of England and for summer 2013 we will have two centres there HLC and Ampleforth College in York,” he said.
Churchill House was established in 1971 and last summer welcomed students from 39 countries to its UK summer schools.
New system aims to ease applications for agents
Centurus One has been launched in the UK as a streamlined application system to universities, colleges and language schools, allowing agents to track multiple applications in a single platform.
“The Centurus portal is a revolutionary system for worldwide agents to process applications over multiple institutions from a single login,” said Dawood Fard, Managing Director of Centurus Ltd. “Agents and students will benefit from a completely free and easy-to-use portal to keep all their applications in one place.”
Institutions that sign up to the system will pay a fee per enrolled student, and can invite their agents onto the system. Fard said that there were a number of benefits for agents: faster communication, a document trail to prevent administrative errors at institutions, a platform for institutions to share new information, and the ability to make payments directly within the system by integration with the Uni-Pay platform.
Around 350 agencies have already used the system through the trial, and Fard said he expects to have 60 UK-based institutions on board by the end of 2013, with future plans to go global. He said that further add-on features for agents would be launched within months.
New pre-sixth form diploma at UK school
UWC Atlantic College in South Wales, UK, has launched the Atlantic pre-Diploma for international students as a preparation course for the IB and sixth form study.
John Walmsley, UWC Atlantic Principal, said, “Many international students are at a disadvantage when studying in the UK. Our new Atlantic pre-Diploma, will provide these students with a platform to develop not only their English but their outlook on the world.”
The curriculum is based on the IGCSE, with academic English, Mathematics, Science and other core subjects. A parallel part of the course is based on the college’s history of experiental learning. UWC Atlantic was one of the co-creators of the International Baccalaureate and the first school in the UK to fully adopt the IB.
News in brief
New Zealand reviews agent scheme and changes visa offices
Education New Zealand has announced that it is conducting a review of its Specialist Agent scheme. ENZ is considering: enhanced training being made available online; rewards for high-quality agents bringing value to New Zealand; improved communication; and stronger links with legislative and international education developments. Meanwhile, it has been announced that the Immigration New Zealand offices in Bangkok, Thailand, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, and Colombo, Sri Lanka, are no longer handling visa applications. All applications should be sent to the New Zealand Visa Application Centres in each location.
New summer school in the Lake District
English 100 has been established as a new provider of intensive EFL courses for teenagers at Casterton School, near the UK’s Lake District. Courses and accommodation will be provided at Casterton, an independent day and boarding school established in 1827 and set within 30 acres of grounds in the Cumbria countryside, with accommodation in single, twin or triple en-suite rooms. The three-week intensive course provides 33 hours of tuition per week for students aged 11-to-15. Alan Etherton, Director of English 100 at Casterton School, said, “The main aim of the course at all times is to improve students’ ability to communicate confidently in English, in real, common situations.”
Connect launches Social Media English course
Toronto-based Connect School of Languages has launched a new Social Media English Programme for language learners, an eight-week course including studies on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Hangouts and blogging. Students will use iPads in class and the programme comes with a multi-media iBook textbook. “The way we communicate in today’s world is very different. Social media is the new currency in the business and social world,” said James Rice, Director of Connect. “To be successful in the next 10 years, students need to learn the vocabulary, the concepts and the best practices of the social media world.”
Finland set to introduce international fees
Finland appears likely to introduce higher education tuition fees for non-EU students, following an initiative that was signed by a majority of parliamentarians. Proponents of the bill actually want to increase the number of international students by allowing graduates to remain in the country and repay fees through taxes. However, student union groups have criticised the move, saying it would deter potential students and diminish Finland’s diverse student population.
The UK’s London Heathrow airport will invest £3bn (US$4.5bn) in facilities and services from 2014-2019, with priorities including the instillation of more self-service kiosks and bag drops, free Wi-Fi and the introduction of additional retail brands and lounge products. Colin Matthews, Chief Executive of the airport, said, “Heathrow faces stiff competition from other European hubs and we must continue to improve the service we offer to passengers.” Between the same period, the airport also plans to charge airlines an extra 6 per cent to cover aeronautical costs, which will see the average price per passenger across all flights reach £27.30 (US$42.75)in 2018/19.
Originally a four-times-weekly flight, Emirates, the Dubai-based carrier, has announced plans to increase the frequency of services to the Australian city of Adelaide to daily. This will boost passenger numbers on the route to 200,000 per year, and an extra 1,062 seats will be added to the flight each week. “The response since our inception into South Australia has been overwhelming, with current load factors averaging between 85 and 90 per cent throughout December and January,” said Salem Obaidalla, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations for the Far East and Australia. “South Australians have been receptive of the new Emirates product and service across all classes.”
Hainan Airlines in China will launch a direct service from Beijing to the USA’s Chicago in September 2013, which will operate four times a week. This latest destination complements the two other North American cities served by this airline Seattle and Toronto as well as the codeshare that the carrier operates with American Airlines.
Eurail Group GIE, an organisation that manages the Eurail pass (allowing travellers to take multiple train journeys across Europe), has designed a mobile phone app to assist Eurail and InterRail pass holders in organising their journeys. The Rail Planner app is free and provides offline timetable information, meaning that once the app has been downloaded, users do not need an internet connection to use it and can avoid expensive roaming costs overseas. The app also helps travellers find their closest train station with inbuilt augmented reality (tracking), and also lists eligible discounts for users including hotel stays and entry to museums.
Changi Airport Group, based in Singapore, will develop a fourth terminal costing US$1.3bn in a bid to enhance airfield capacity. The new facility will take over the old Budget Terminal which closed last year, and will bring the airport’s total passenger capacity to 82 million a year when launched in 2017. It will have a heavier focus on self-check-in, self-bag-tagging and self-bag-drops compared to other terminals at the airport.
The British carrier BMI Regional will operate a 12-times-weekly flight between Bristol and Hamburg Airport in Germany from April 8, replacing the five-times-per-week route between the two cities. The airline’s Chief Executive, Cathal O’Connell, said, “As an organisation we are committed to developing markets in areas where our customers want to travel. The launch of this new service to Hamburg and Frankfurt is a continuation of our promise to serve key economic and transport hubs to multiple destinations across Europe.” Meanwhile, Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Airport, commented, “The commencement of a Hamburg service, with daily flights to Frankfurt to follow, connects the South West [of England] and South Wales with these major German cities. Both are important business centres.”
Bahrain Air has filed for voluntary liquidation and has consequently ceased all operations including flights to Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In a statement, the airline said that it had suffered “considerable financial losses” as a result of the unstable political and security situation in Bahrain. In 2011, during Bahrain’s State of National Emergency, the airline was instructed to suspend flights to several destinations, and also suffered from the lack of traffic to and from Bahrain and from the restrictions on the Saudi Causeway.”
Strong growth from the Asian region has prompted Auckland-based Air New Zealand to increase flights to Tokyo, Japan and Shanghai, China, marking the return of the first daily Auckland-Shanghai route since its closure in 2006. Last year, the carrier announced that it would drop its Beijing flight to focus on building up Shanghai, and after a temporary lull caused by the Christchurch earthquake and Sendai tsunami, services between the Kiwi gateway and Tokyo have also gone daily.