New pro-agent group, AIRC, formed in the USA
A group of educators in the USA have formed a new association, the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC), in an effort to develop ethical standards for commission-based overseas student recruiters and encourage more educators in the USA to use their services.
The council has 11 founding institutional members, most of which are universities or community colleges, with one private language school ELS Language Centers. Institutions can join the council as sustaining or affiliate members and agencies can join as agency members as long as they agree to abide by the binding standards of best practice. The group aims to provide professional development to agent members and develop common standards guiding US institutions on how to work with agents.
Mitch Leventhal, Vice Provost for International Affairs at the University of Cincinnati, has been instrumental in setting up the new not-for-profit group and is the new President, Secretary and Chairman of the Board. He said, “We anticipate developing a professional development curriculum focusing on unique issues relative to US education and requiring candidate agent members to have a certain number of staff go through it. And finally they would undergo an external site visit paid for by them. Assuming they jump each of these hurdles, they would obtain certified status for a period of years, until they were due for recertification.”
AIRC also has an advisory board of which Dr Marjorie Lenn, President of the Center for Quality Assurance in International Education is a member. She said that she had been asked to become a member of the board due to her long history with accreditation in the USA, “including coordinating the national process by which approximately 100 accrediting bodies in the USA are recognised”. She added, “The organisation which I head now works with quality assurance development and enhancement throughout the globe.”
The council plans to use the input of agencies when developing their agent strategy and in September, it invited EduGlobal in China, Global Reach in India and Mentor International in Thailand to participate in standards development and pilot the certification process. Leventhal said that the agents were chosen due to their good reputation. “They are highly conscientious and to our knowledge operate with the highest ethical principles,” he said. “All embrace the idea of a standards and certification process. The Board has agreed that we may open the pilot group to as many as five agencies.”
The use of agents by US higher education institutions has historically been a contentious issue with the National Association for College Admission Counseling (Nacac) currently barring its members from paying commission to agents. Leventhal hopes that Nacac, Nafsa and other education bodies will eventually become observer members “since we want our processes to be well scrutinized and intend for them to have a high level of transparency”. David Hawkins from Nacac said that the association had so far declined to participate in AIRC as an observer as it was currently engaged in discussions with Nafsa regarding the topic of paying commission. “Our members are free to participate in the organisation, though they are representing only themselves and not the association,” he said. “While they are expected to abide by Nacac’s Statement of Principles as Nacac members, we believe they are acting in good faith.”
Canada launches education brand
A national Canadian education brand has been launched by a group of provincial education ministers.
The Council of Ministers of Education held a press conference in Fredericton, NB, to launch the brand, which was developed to promote Canadian education to international students. Council Chairperson, Kelly Lamrock, said, “We are thrilled at the prospect of implementing this coordinated approach to promoting our educational achievements worldwide. Implementing this new brand will ensure that our partners internationally can access a rich and coherent body of resources on Canada’s educational systems and institutions.”
The new brand was developed in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade after proposals were called for in January 2007. Initially only the provincial and territorial governments will use the brand but organisations are expected to use it in 2009.
Calum Mackechnie, President of Languages Canada, said, “Canada has long been in need of a national approach to education export marketing in general and for the English and French language teaching industry in particular. We are delighted that this new brand has finally become a reality. We look forward to further developing our position in
WYSTC in New York
The World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) celebrated its 17th year in New York this September, attracting over 450 organisations in the youth, student and educational travel market.
The conference was held over five days and delegates were impressed with the venue and overall organisation of the event, although some mentioned they would like to see more buyers. Linda James from AIFS said that a change in the way appointments were set up meant that every meeting was productive for her. “This year, you could book with who you wanted to [meet],” she said, “and I really noticed the difference. I think we’ve had value for money from the meetings. It felt like we had a bit more control. The quality of seminars was really good too. It is good to have some people talking from outside the industry, challenging the audience.”
David Anthonisz from Alenea Consulting in the UK said that the conference differed from other agent workshops in that it was not a traditional sales event. “It is a conferencing and networking event that gives people the opportunity to come up with new ideas,” he said. “For people with an open mind, I think it’s very good. We want to work in the market at a wider level, and for that it’s been very good. We meet people we wouldn’t normally meet so [opportunities] open up!”
Organisers, the Wyse Travel Confederation and trade organisations under its banner, held two days of annual general meetings and workshops during the event while an industry seminar programme was also provided for one day. Next year’s Wystc will be held in Manchester in the UK.
NZ language school goes ‘green’
A language school in New Zealand has become one of the first private English language schools in the world to be certified carbon-neutral. Languages International, with branches in Auckland and Christchurch, has measured the amount of energy it uses in both schools and offsets the carbon emissions by buying carbon credits from New Zealand-based carbon off-setters Offset the Rest.
Darren Conway, Chief Executive at the school, said, “We know that in itself, buying carbon credits is not the solution to environmental problems, but as part of a plan to reduce environmental impact, it does show a commitment to making changes.”
The school has a strict recycling policy and reuses materials as much as it can. Students at the school are also encouraged to offset their carbon emissions from their travel to and from New Zealand as the school calculates how much it would cost them to buy carbon credits from Offset the Rest.
The certification process involves measuring a business’s carbon footprint, setting emission reduction targets and the offsetting of any unavoidable emissions.
Enterprise Ireland excludes language schools
Enterprise Ireland, which organises trade missions for education institutions overseas, has banned English language schools in Ireland from attending any future events.
The organisation told MEI-Relsa in a letter that education trade missions would in the future solely invite higher education institutions listed on the Department of Education and Science list of Providers of Higher Education in Ireland to take part. The list comprises of universities, colleges institutes of technology, colleges of education and any other state aided institutions engaged in the provision of education. General trade missions would still be open to all Enterprise Ireland clients, including language schools.
Adrian Cummins, CEO of MEI-Relsa, said, “It is baffling that a state agency with the responsibility of promoting Ireland as a destination for education is excluding the largest revenue earner for the international education sector.”
The Irish Department of Education was scheduled to meet with Enterprise Ireland in an effort to end the dispute although at the time of going to press, Cummins added that the matter had so far not been resolved.
Korean children face re-entry exams after studying abroad
Korean children returning from studying in an overseas country will have to sit a re-entrance exam when returning to school in their home country, according to a report in the Korea Times. The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education introduced the new ruling in August this year and said the measure was introduced to ensure that returning Korean elementary and secondary students would be able to keep up academically with their peers.
An official said, “We regulate each school to test returning students according to their own yardstick. However, not many schools follow the rules. The exams will not be difficult, but those who fail will not be able to attend the classes they want to.”
Currently, around 30,000 school-age children in Korea study in an overseas country each year, a rise of more than 20 per cent compared with figures for 10 years ago.
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