February 2004 issue

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Schools with flair win awards

Two English language schools in different parts of the world have been celebrating success in professional awards ceremonies. In Australia last year, Australia Pacific College (APC) celebrated gaining the 'Language Education Award 2003' from the Australia-Latin America Business Council and the Council on Australia Latin America Relations.
The awards were sponsored by export promotion body, Austrade, and aimed to toast success in exporting to the Latin American region. 'I was really thrilled to receive this as I do all of the marketing for APC and have put a lot of time, money and effort into the Latin American market,' said APC's Amanda Rudge. 'We have students [at the school] now from Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Peru and Argentina.'
In Malta, the Institute of English Language Studies (IELS) scooped an award in the 'academic and professional' category of the Skål Malta Tourism Awards 2003. 'It is always rewarding when one receives such an award,' said John Dimech of IELS. 'It is given in recognition of the high standards that we always strive to maintain. IELS owes its success throughout its 18 years of existence mostly to its dedicated staff, host families and other suppliers.'

Open Doors: students in decline

The number of English language students studying in the USA is spiralling downwards, with a 35 per cent drop in numbers recorded from 2001 to 2002, according to the latest findings in the USA's annual Open Doors survey.

Figures relating to English language study in 2002 reveal the decline in enrolment levels at Intensive English programmes (IEPs), with 51,179 students recorded by the IEPs that took part in the survey for 2002, compared with 78,521 in 2001. The figures also signify a 40 per cent decline in enrolments since 2000.

However, only 174 institutions participated in the latest 2002 survey, compared with 196 in 2001, which means the overall decline may be slightly lower than 35 per cent. Nevertheless, the published figures point to a dramatically declining English language student population across the whole industry.

'At least now, IEPs can show evidence when we say to others in international education, 'we told you so',' commented Kelly Franklin, President of American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP). 'We have long said that IEPs are like the 'canary in the mine' and that our enrolments are often first to reflect student flow changes.'

Franklin added that he hoped the decline, and decline in other areas such as tourism, 'may finally spur people to complain about the government policies that are frightening people from coming to the US'.

The Institute for International Education (IIE), which compiled the survey results by canvassing members of AAIEP and the consortium of University and College Intensive English Programs (UCIEP), acknowledged, 'IEPs have been hardest hit.'

In terms of student nationalities, all key student provider countries for English language study, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan - the top three - registered a decline in student numbers. South American countries, such as Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, notched up the biggest decrease year on year, as well as Saudi Arabia.

Open Doors also reveals growth in the USA's mainstream education sector slowed down in 2002/2003. Another complimentary survey, asking for predictions for autumn 2003, suggests a further decline in student numbers in the current academic year.

In the mainstream sector, overall growth in student numbers was less than one per cent, with 13 of the top 20 student provider countries for mainstream education programmes registering a decrease in enrolments.

India remained the top student provider country for the second consecutive year, and was one country that improved its enrolment levels on the previous year. Others included Korea, Kenya and China. China was the number-two provider country, followed by Korea.

The total number of international students enrolled at colleges and universities for the 2002/03 academic year was 586,323, according to the survey, which canvassed 2,700 accredited US institutions, with a response rate of 90 per cent.

Allan Goodman at IIE said, 'These figures reflect... a number of factors - a weakened economic situation affecting many countries, student and family concerns about safety and possible delays associated with student visas, and an increase in competition from other host countries.'

US citizens must study abroad

A taskforce in the USA has criticised the average American student for their lack of knowledge of the world and called for a drive towards increasing study abroad opportunities for students as a 'national priority'.

The taskforce, set up by Nafsa, Association of International Educators, is made up of a panel of politicians and education professionals. In its report, Securing America's Future, it has introduced concrete goals for the future in order to ensure Americans have a global understanding and international experience.

'Our country simply cannot afford to remain ignorant of the rest of the world. The stakes are too high,' said former US Education Secretary, Richard Riley, Co-Chairperson of the panel. Key recommendations made include making it mandatory by 2010 for 20 per cent of US students to have studied abroad and encouraging students to choose countries outside of Western Europe, such as China and Africa, to study in.

The taskforce has gone further in recommending half of all US students study abroad by 2040. It said US students should, 'devote a substantive portion of their education to gaining an understanding of other countries, regions, languages and cultures, through personal experience'.

Other key suggestions made by the taskforce include universities lowering fees and other curricular disincentives for overseas study; the government making legislative changes to encourage overseas study; state legislature pushing international education to enhance state economic development; and private businesses also playing their part in helping schools to produce a globally competent workforce.

China issues approved list of schools

China's Ministry of Education has published a list of schools it endorses in 21 countries, including the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, Japan and Germany. The move follows warnings issued about using officially approved agencies, amid more reports of students being duped by bogus advertising.

The websites, www.jsj.edu.cn and www.cscse.edu.cn, have lists that have been compiled in collaboration with governments or industry bodies. Countries such as the UK and USA have already supplied a list of schools, and Robert Stevens at Education New Zealand reported that the New Zealand government was currently deciding on criteria that schools would have to meet in order to be included on the list.

As well as providing a list of recommended schools, the Chinese Ministry of Education has also promised continued efforts in controlling the activities of education agencies.

NZ providers hit with higher tax requirement

The education export levy that New Zealand language schools have to pay to fund industry development and protection has been increased, since the collapse of the Modern Age Institute of Learning last year (see Language Travel Magazine, November 2003, page 4).

The amendment to the bill was announced in December by Education Minister, Trevor Mallard, who said the extra funds - a rise from 0.45 per cent to 0.7 per cent of tuition fees - would be used where necessary to reimburse students and recover any costs that taxpayers incur if private education providers fail.

The Association of Private Providers of English Language (Appel) is outraged by the increase, which applies to private providers only. 'These government-incurred fees seem to be already spiralling and are subject to no accountability to the industry,' commented spokeperson, Cleve Brown.

UK students to shun French and German

There are real concerns in the UK that language learning among schoolchildren will drop substantially, as new rules allowing them to opt out of language learning when they reach 14 years old are ushered in in September. French and German are expected to be most affected, according to a report carried out by CiLT, the National Centre for Languages, although Spanish is maintaining its interest levels among school children.

Barry Sheerman, representing the government's education select committee, told The Guardian that his committee would consider an inquiry, saying that a steep fall in language study was a matter of deep concern.

Autumn survey confirms slow growth in USA

Current international student enrolment levels in the USA are stagnant, in part because of the visa process, according to education professionals who contributed to a survey in the autumn conducted by the Institute of International Education (IIE). The survey compliments the latest Open Doors findings (see left/right) to give a forecast about future industry trends, considered in conjunction with trends of past years.

Overall, 46 per cent of respondents reported a decline in enrolment levels in October 2003, while 33 per cent noted an increase and 21 per cent saw no noticeable change. Eighty-four per cent of institutions added that all their students for the autumn term had arrived when they were surveyed.

Fifty-nine per cent of respondents attributed a decline to visa refusals and delays, although financial difficulties and the attraction of other countries were also cited as factors. Countries most affected by a slowdown in student numbers were said to include China (36 per cent noted a significant drop in new admissions), Saudi Arabia (29.2 per cent) and Pakistan (27.7 per cent).

Peggy Blumenthal at IIE said, "Some of the discrepancies from campus to campus can be attributed to the fact that international student programmes vary widely, drawing students from different countries and for different academic programmes. In some countries, and for some fields, the visa application process can be a lengthy and challenging one."

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