||Schools to be accredited by ISI
The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) has agreed to extend its activities in order to carry out accreditation reviews of privately funded further education colleges and English language schools, according to a statement on the UK Border Agency (UKBA) website. ISI will be the only body that can accredit English language schools wishing to sponsor non-EU students. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) has also extended its remit and will cover private higher education providers in the future.
Recent changes to UK student visa policy stipulated that all schools would need to be accredited by the end of 2012, or face losing their ability to sponsor student visa holders. Accreditation privileges were also withdrawn from bodies such as Accreditation UK and The Accreditation Service for British Language Schools, in April, leading English UK to challenge UKBA on the proposed new accreditation bodies none of whom were legally empowered to accredit private colleges (STM, July 2011, page 38).
English UK CEO, Tony Millns, said, “We were not surprised by the announcement that the ISI was the body which would be inspecting language schools: Ofsted [the state school inspectorate] had made it clear that it was not interested in further extending its remit and inspecting private language schools would have been a significant departure from the usual work of the QAA.”
Millns added that English UK was still hopeful of being involved in the accreditation procedure. “We have been talking to the ISI and have a meeting planned in which we will be discussing various options which could make use of our unrivalled expertise in this area,” he said.
All schools seeking accreditation will need to submit an application by 9 September 2011. Schools that fail to apply by this deadline will not be permitted to issue confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) certificates. ISI advise that schools will be able to register from August 1 and should monitor their website for information.
New language college in Brighton
Ovingdean Hall International Language College in the UK has started accepting applications for what will be Brighton’s first campus-based language college, when it opens its doors in September this year.
The hall is a listed 18th century mansion set within 21 acres of private countryside, near the Brighton coastline. Facilities include a swimming pool, theatre, sports courts, barbeque area, and a nature reserve, while The Hub is a social entertainment centre with its own café, Internet café and student lounge.
College Director, Susan Evans, said, “We believe Ovingdean Hall College is truly unique in Brighton because we are an independent college with a friendly, family atmosphere on an amazing 21-acre campus only minutes from the city centre. We want to not only meet students’ expectations but exceed them.”
Students will be taught in classrooms with SMART boards and a designated e-learning centre. “We have the latest learning technology to assist students in achieving their maximum potential,” Evans added. Campus accommodation is provided in residential blocks with over 100 single and twin rooms, while homestay options are also available for students.
Maltese schools see drop in Spanish students
English language schools in Malta have experienced a 66 per cent drop in students from Spain this year, following the Spanish government’s decision to make a e500 (US$711) reduction in scholarships for study in the country.
Spanish students accounted for over 33,000 student weeks in 2010, while this year only 12,000 weeks have been booked so far. The Becas-MEC scholarship was previously a flat rate of e1,700 (US$2,416) regardless of destination, but this year amounts have been staggered. Malta was the only country to receive a reduction; the UK and Ireland remained unchanged, while the USA and Australia received increases. Isabelle Pace Warrington from Feltom said that a delegation is due to meet education authorities in Spain in an attempt to reverse the decision for 2012.
ASQA assumes regulatory role for Elicos providers in Australia
On july 1, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), a newly established national regulator, became the designated authority for registered training organisations that deliver courses to international students, including Elicos and foundation programmes.
Providers in South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania will continue under state regulatory bodies until the transfer of regulatory powers of those states to the Commonwealth is finalised, at which time ASQA will become the designated regulatory authority.
The National ELT Accreditation Scheme (Neas) advised that they have been in close consultation with ASQA for several months. The results of positive talks are that where Neas accreditation is currently approved, this will be accepted as meeting the National Elicos Standards for the purposes of Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (Cricos) registration, meaning Neas accredited centres will not need to go through an additional Cricos approval process.
Pine Manor and Kings Colleges offer US pathway for international students
Pine Manor Colleges, the Massachusetts-based liberal arts college in the USA, and Kings Colleges, an international colleges group, have joined forces to offer a USA University Foundation Pathway Programme, which will transition students onto the second year of courses.
Students enrolled on this programme will take the same academic courses as regular Pine Manor students, but will also receive additional English language training and academic study skills. The course, which will be taught over two semesters, commences in September 2011, with a further entry in January 2012. Students will receive transferable course accreditation sufficient to gain second year entry at a wide choice of universities throughout the USA.
“This collaboration will help strengthen the ways both Pine Manor and Kings Colleges are able to engage international students and help them succeed,” said William Vogele, Interim Dean of Pine Manor College. “We are excited to welcome students from different cultural backgrounds to our school, as their presence will help enrich the diversity of our student community.”
Pine Manor will lease a dedicated facility to Kings Colleges to operate its own English language training school on campus, while Kings Colleges will actively recruit students to the school.
UK to issue 260,000 fewer student visas by 2015
The UK will issue around a quarter of a million fewer student visas between now and 2015, according to figures published by the Home Office, while 100,000 fewer visas will be given to students’ dependents.
The reductions will be as a result of changes to the student visa system including restrictions on working rights, tougher English requirements and tighter accreditation rules for private colleges sponsoring students and were announced in an impact assessment signed by the Immigration Minister, Damian Green.
The assessment considers that the decrease in student visas issued could have an economic impact of UK£3.2 billion (US$5.2 billion) in reduced work output, and UK£170 million (US$275 million) in lost tuition fees. Million+, a group representing post-1992 UK universities, warned against taking a “sledgehammer” to the existing student visa system.
“At a time of economic difficulty we should not be introducing reforms that will damage the UK or stop us attracting the talent and skills we need to rebuild our economy,” said Chief Executive, Pam Tatlow.
High Australian dollar attracts working holiday students
Australia’s English language teaching sector has seen an increase in East Asian and European students on visitor and working holiday visas, caused by the high Australian dollar. While longer-term courses have suffered due to the surging dollar, making Australia less competitive, working holidaymakers have been lured by the prospect of earning extra money. This has had a knock-on effect on the Elicos industry, with the number of Elicos students on these short-term visas increasing by over 6,000.
Japan, with a 2,500 increase, represented the largest rise, with 1,000 extra students coming from Taiwan and 700 from France. Switzerland, Hong Kong and Italy also all recorded increases. Student visas only accounted for 60 per cent of all students in 2010, the lowest level since 2007. However, the non-student visa growth could not prevent an overall decline of 10 per cent in the Elicos industry.
English Australia’s Sue Blundell said, “The Elicos sector in Australia has always been diverse, with the various visa options offering flexibility to visitors in how they combine study, work and travel. The strong [Australian dollar] currently presents a range of opportunities for visitors with student or working holiday visas to work to earn additional income to support their travel and study goals. Enrolling in an English language course at the beginning of a visit provides the language skills to engage with Australians more effectively, make friends, be confident in travelling and to gain higher paying employment.”
Opportunities for the industry lie in ensuring working holiday makers exercise their four-month study entitlement. Currently 42 per cent of Japanese working holiday visa holders take English courses during their time in Australia.
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