||Ireland launches international education strategy
The Irish government has announced plans to increase international student numbers in higher education by 50 per cent and the numbers in English language schools by 25 per cent.
An international education strategy, called Investing in Global Relationships, was launched in September this year by the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, the Minister for Education, Mary Coughlan and the Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern. Under the new strategy the Education Ireland brand will be redeveloped by Enterprise Ireland and will encompass higher education and the English language sector. Individual institutions will contribute to a funding pool to support generic promotion and localised marketing and a statutory code of practice and quality mark will be developed and managed by a new group, Qualifications and Quality Assurance Ireland, to be established in 2011.
The code of practice and quality mark will cover issues such as marketing, recruitment and enrolment, orientation and induction, fees, accommodation, academic matters, welfare services and learner protection and will be used by state bodies for the purposes of visas, access to the labour market and participation in national branding activities.
Other plans include fast-tracking visa applications for degree programmes and classing students on short-term language courses as educational tourists so that they do not have to meet the standard conditions for students. Shared recruitment targets will also be developed by the educational sector and agreed with visa and immigration authorities and training initiatives for trusted education agents will be supported by the government.
The government hopes to increase the revenue earned through international education to the Irish economy from e900 million (US$1.2 billion) annually to e1.2 billion (US$1.6 billion) by 2015. Cowen said, “This is a highly competitive area of activity in terms of how many countries are promoting their competitive advantages. We have this year over 100,000 English language students who have come to Ireland. We want to make sure that this is built up to 120,000 by 2015.”
The Department of Justice has also introduced strict rules regarding the length of time a student can remain in the country for study purposes. From January 2011, for non-degree programmes, the time limit will be three years while for honours degree students the limit will be seven years.
Number of second language learners varies in Europe
According to statistical data released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, 79 per cent of EU students in primary education and 83 per cent of those studying at upper secondary level were studying a foreign language in 2008.
Language learning at primary level was particularly prolific in Luxembourg and Sweden, where 100 per cent of the student body were learning a first foreign language. This was followed by Italy (99 per cent) and Spain (98 per cent). Conversely, the lowest share could be found in Ireland, where just three per cent of the student base were studying a foreign language, followed by the Netherlands (32 per cent) and Hungary (33 per cent).
Almost all students in secondary education in the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden were studying towards a foreign language. The study of modern languages appears to be in decline in the UK with just 32 per cent of secondary-aged students studying a first foreign language in 2008, most notably French. A further eight per cent were learning a second language (Spanish).
At both levels, English was the most popular choice for language learners. Ten per cent of primary-aged pupils elected to undertake a second foreign language, while a further 39 per cent opted to take another language at secondary level. French and German were among the most common electives.
New IH affiliate school in Scotland
Aberdeen-based language school, English for Everyone, has become affiliated with the global network of schools, International House World Organisation (IHWO).
The school, which was launched in 2006 and received British Council accreditation after only two years of operation, is the only language school north of Dundee to achieve accreditation status.
School Director, June Johnstone, noted that the affiliation was a natural progression to help raise the school’s profile overseas. “We are absolutely over the moon to have achieved this status as becoming a member of IHWO means that both students and staff are covered by the IHWO charter which guarantee the highest standards of teaching and welfare.”
The school recently acquired an additional floor in their Union Street premises to help cater for more students. The location now boasts seven bright and spacious classrooms, a large student reception, computer area and staff room.
School closures in Queensland
Two Queensland-based language centres have ceased operation within the last few months owing to the regulatory measures implemented by the Australian government and growing competition in Australia’s second largest state.
The Brisbane branch of Eurocentres, launched in 2005, closed its doors at the end of October stating that changes to student visa regulations had led to a “substantial loss” in business. According to Michael Gerber, Chief Executive Officer of the language school chain, the branch lost 70 per cent of its locally sourced students amounting to a 40 per cent dent in the school’s overall enrolments since the government introduced the new regulations.
“Eurocentres management is aware of the difficult situation this decision causes for the Brisbane staff and would like to thank them for their commitment over the past years. But under the circumstances no other solution was possible,” explained Gerber. “With a long-established school in Cairns, Eurocentres has a good offer for Queensland.” The chain will now focus its attention on its three remaining Australian campuses in Sydney, Perth and Cairns.
Meanwhile, start up school, MyEnglish, has ceased trading after just one year. Launched in November 2009 by Natalie Johnstone and partners Larissa Own and Chris Johnstone, the boutique language school was based in Queensland’s Burleigh Heads. At its inception Johnstone, who formerly worked for the Geos chain of schools, noted that she was excited to be setting up an owner operator venture. However, a saturated marketplace could well be behind the collapse with businesses slashing course prices to remain competitive.
The country’s Tuition Assurance Scheme (TAS) kicked in as soon as the school announced it was unable to deliver any more courses TAS necessitates that English Australia assist affected students by finding them alternative placements. EA Executive Director, Sue Blundell, noted that there were 20 students that needed to be transferred, with the association placing them all with other EA member colleges on the Gold Coast within five days of the closure being announced. “We worked closely with the agents involved and believe that everyone was satisfied with the outcomes as there was minimal disruption for the students,” she stated.
Absolutely English to separate from Ceran Lingua International
Ceran Lingua International, a provider of residential language courses in France, Belgium and Spain, and UK-based operation, Absolutely English (Ceran UK), are to part company this year.
As a licensee for over 12 years, a change in strategy has prompted the board at Ceran to end its involvement with the UK centre, which offers executive language courses for professionals.
The school, which is run by husband and wife team Sian and Petro Choma-Peters, will continue to offer executive programmes as well as their young learners programme at UK independent school, Sherborne Girls in Dorset. “For us, it’s business as usual,” said Sian Choma-Peters. “With a well-established track record and excellent team behind us, we are excited and optimistic about the future of our executive and young learner programmes, which are both accredited by the British Council.” The school will also maintain the same staff infrastructure, added Choma-Peters.
While there are no plans to establish another UK executive centre by Ceran, plans to set up a new, young learner centre in the country are said to be underway.
US expansion plans for St Giles
St Giles International, the global language school chain, is to open a new year-round centre in New York, USA. The new school, which joins fellow North American campuses, San Francisco and Vancouver, is located on Manhattan’s premier shopping street, Fifth Avenue, opposite the Empire State Building.
Robin Garforth, Marketing Director at St Giles International, said that the new location had been met with a positive reaction from agents. “It’s fantastic news to be able to offer New York as a St Giles destination. The response globally is overwhelmingly positive with our partners confident in our experience and promise of excellence,” he said.
The organisation is also concentrating its efforts on expanding its portfolio of junior camps, with centres opening at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Harvard University in Boston, MA and Cheltenham Ladies’ College in the UK in 2011.
“While our organisation continues to grow, our values remain the same profound respect for the customer, commitment to quality, constant progress and the drive to improve,” stated Mark Lindsay, Managing Director.
New ELS Centre in Fort Smith
ELS Language Centers has opened a new centre at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith in Fort Smith, AR in the USA.
New Director of the school, Simon Smith, said that more than 40 students had already been admitted to ELS Fort Smith, which opened in mid August. “They can live and study among American students, gain valuable experience of American university life and learn to feel very confident and comfortable before even beginning their undergraduate or postgraduate studies. ELS Language Centers is very pleased to join the University of Arkansas Fort Smith community and contribute to the international diversity of the region.” Smith formerly worked at the University of California, Los Angeles American Language Center and has also directed three US language schools in California.
The centre becomes part of a network of more than 50 ELS centres throughout the USA which have, in turn, helped over one million students suceed academically over the past 50 years.
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