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August 2006 issue

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Canada considers linking visas to accreditation

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is considering linking student visa issuance to quality accreditation by only allowing accredited language teaching institutions to offer an electronic confirmation of enrolment that would be needed by students to apply for a visa. At present, however, paper-based confirmation of enrolments can still be issued.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is considering linking student visa issuance to quality accreditation by only allowing accredited language teaching institutions to offer an electronic confirmation of enrolment that would be needed by students to apply for a visa. At present, however, paper-based confirmation of enrolments can still be issued.

Such a move would bring Canada into line with Australia and the UK – which has not introduced such a process yet but has announced its intention to do so in the future – although no formal announcement has been made as yet by the Canadian authorities.

However, to date, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between Canadian government departments and the two educator associations with quality accreditation schemes. The MOU allows members of the Canadian Association of Private Language Schools (Capls) and the Canada Language Council (CLC) to gain access to the Study in Canada web portal and the Electronic Notification System project – used to issue electronic letters of acceptance.

"For both associations to receive recognition by the Canadian government for their accreditation systems is a major achievement," said Gerry La Belle, President of Capls. "A great deal of effort and commitment has gone into the development of our standards."

The Study in Canada site, previously known as Live, Learn and Succeed (see Language Travel Magazine, July 2005, page 7), allows students to find out details of courses and institutions directly online. Capls and CLC will work cooperatively in managing the database of accredited programmes in conjunction with the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Immigrants must learn local language

Chancellor Gordon Brown in the UK and President Bush in the USA have both called for immigrants to be expected to learn English as part of overhauled approaches to immigration. Meanwhile, in Germany, the Prime Minister of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber, has proposed regional school reforms that will mean exclusion for pupils who cannot speak German. "Whoever cannot speak German will not be accepted into a regular school," he said, stoking controversy in the region. "And whoever does not integrate on a permanent basis must leave Germany."

Successful integration of immigrants has become a highly topical issue in Europe recently. In the UK, Brown told a radio programme, "I think people who come into this country, who are part of our community, should play by the rules. I think learning English is part of that. I think understanding British history is part of that." He added that learning English was a prerequisite to becoming employable in the UK.

In the USA, the US Senate has already voted to make English the national language of the country. Different immigration bills in the House and Senate are being considered and Bush favours various guest worker programmes, as well as stepped-up security on the US-Mexico border. He echoed the rhetoric of Brown and said immigrants should "learn the values, history and language of America".

ABLS separates member- ship from accreditation

The Association of British Language Schools (ABLS), the smaller of the two main groups in the UK that represent English language teaching organisations, has split its activities so that the accreditation scheme that it offers is run independently from the membership scheme.

Janet McGuirk, Chairperson of ABLS, explained that it was felt that running both operations together "could provide a conflict of interest". The changes were decided in February and originally scheduled for the end of the membership year in June, but Joanne Adcock, Association Secretary, explained that ABLS "felt it was imperative to expedite the separation" of activities. This was in light of the fact that ABLS was not one of the accrediting bodies listed in the UK government';s consultation paper into the new visa system. The new accreditation company is called the Accreditation Body for Language Services and no ABLS school owner or member is a director of the private limited company.

As the UK government follows up the consultation stage of its process to build compulsory accreditation into student visa issuance, it has underlined that any accreditation scheme adopted will have to "be able to clearly demonstrate that its function is completely independent of any membership-type scheme". Adcock said this requirement came after ABLS had informed the Home Office of its intentions in February.

"For the last couple of years, ABLS has been working extremely hard to develop," she said. "Several new inspectors were recruited in 2005; it is felt that more than enough has been done to ensure that ABLS should retain its current status." ABLS has also set up partnerships with translation and insurance companies.

Unosel unveils new look

French language travel association, Unosel, which has both agencies and French language teaching institutions as members, has updated its look to reflect the fact that members now offer educational experiences as well as language holidays.
This education emphasis is now also incorporated into Unosel';s official title. Sylviane Halphen at the organisation explained, "At the beginning in 1978, all members of Unosel offered language study holidays for young people. Today, Unosel represents a multidisciplinary group of experts in the fields of language learning and teaching and more generally, education."

Unosel has also been active in campaigning, which Halphen said members were most proud of in terms of its latest activities. Associations and private companies in the industry are now considered to have the same legal status, related Halphen, thanks to the campaigning efforts of Unosel President, Jacques Maillot. The French national assembly and senate passed a law in May that recognised the educational nature of organisations as determining their legal basis.

Emerald Cultural Institute's 20th birthday

Dublin-based language school, Emerald Cultural Institute (ECI), is celebrating its venerable 20th anniversary this year by re-branding. "While continuity is key for us and always has been, we believe that taking a fresh look at what we do is also important," said Mauro Biondi, Owner of the school.

He explained that the brass doorknob on the door of the school (the Victorian school building was the previous logo) is a Celtic symbol that has been used for thousands of years, with different meanings. "Choosing this as our new logo symbolises the constant movement of people and the exchange of cultures that is so much part of what a language school represents," he said.

Biondi hails from Italy, and he explained that he set up the school in Ireland 20 years ago because he loved the international atmosphere of Dublin and "the sense of potential" he felt.

He told Language Travel Magazine that the school';s success over the years has come largely "as a direct result of suggestions made by students and agents". These suggestions led to new programmes, a multimedia room, the opening of Emerald New York and the setting up of ECI';s own in-school catering company.

Saudi students in USA jailed

Two English language students from Saudi Arabia found themselves in jail in the USA earlier this year when they boarded a yellow school bus and alarmed the bus driver and other school pupils by speaking in Arabic.

The driver alerted the authorities, which sent FBI officers to speak to both men when the bus arrived at its destination of Wharton High School in Florida. They were arrested and charged with trespassing on school property and a judge revoked their bail conditions while their backgrounds were checked out.

Far from being terrorists however, Shaker Mohsen Al-sidran and Mana Saleh Al-manajam were students at the English Language Institute at the University of South Florida, learning English as part of a Saudi scholarship scheme announced by President Bush and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia last year (see Language Travel Magazine, June 2006, page 29).

The confusion, which led to them being in jail for a weekend, was caused by their poor grasp of English, said Ahmed Bedier, Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Tampa, FL. They had also told the authorities that they were from Morocco because they were worried that Americans fear Saudi Arabian men.

"I explained to them about the yellow buses being for students of public schools," Bedier told Arab News. "And they responded that, ‘We are students attending a public school';."

China sends most students overseas

A new report published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has found that the overall number of students studying in mainstream education overseas has reached around two-and-a-half million.

Of this group, the largest proportion, 23 per cent, were US-bound. The UK, Germany, France, Australia and Japan were the next most popular study destinations – these top six destinations apparently educate over two-thirds of all international students worldwide.

Unesco claims that China has the highest number of nationals studying overseas, one in every seven international students. China accounts for 14 per cent of total "mobile" students – around 350,000.

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