Languages Canada and Ialca sign agreement
Languages Canada, the association representing 186 accredited Canadian language programmes, and the Italian Association of Language Consultants and Agents (Ialca) have signed an agreement at the Canadian embassy in Rome that will ensure stronger ties between Canada’s language education sector and agents in Italy.
Through the agreement, which will also protect students and promote education, both associations will discuss best practice information, advocate advantageous policies, engage in promotional activities and uphold rigorous standards.
James Fox, Canadian Ambassador and host of the signing, said it was encouraging to see these sector leaders take a proactive stance and collaborate successfully with the embassy.
Languages Canada’s Executive Director, Gonzalo Peralta, commented, “Languages Canada and Ialca are both trailblazers in their respective fields, so this agreement was natural for us. With Languages Canada taking a leadership role as a member of the Global Alliance of Education and Language Associations (Gaela) and Ialca as an active participant in the Federation of Education and Language Consulting Associations (Felca), we wanted to set an example with this agreement.”
With discussions already underway regarding Languages Canada’s return to Italy in 2013, the signing ceremony concluded the association’s trade mission to Italy. Making a concluding remark at the ceremony, Pina Foti, President of Ialca, said, “This agreement is only a beginning. It has provisions that state that our two associations must now put together a working group to reach specific objectives, ensuring that our agreement leads to a strong and vibrant partnership.”
New Zealand to benefit from Chilean scholarships
Chile has selected New zealand as the sole recipient of students on a pilot government scheme to fund study abroad for Chilean high school students.
The so-called Penguins Without Borders named in reference to the colloquial Chilean term for students because of the typical black and white school uniform plans to fund up to 10,000 scholarships at English language secondary schools abroad, with US$19 million set aside for the scheme in 2013.
Forty high school students aged between 14 and 17 years were selected to travel to New Zealand in January on the initial pilot scheme. The package consists of six months of fully funded study at secondary schools in Auckland, New Zealand.
Unveiling the programme, Economic Minister Pablo Longueira said, “The purpose of Penguins without Borders is not only for students to learn English in New Zealand, but also so that Chile produces young people with a new mentality, so that they can learn and be innovative in a globalised world.”
New Zealand Ambassador to Chile, John Capper, attended the launch and commented that it was a “priceless piece of branding for New Zealand education”.
Korea and Japan round off Alphe for 2012
The annual Alphe conferences in Korea and Japan in December concluded a successful year of workshops with increased attendance categories at both events.
Alphe Korea 2012, held at the Grand Hyatt in Seoul, attracted 70 agents, representing 62 different agencies and eight countries, an increase over five last year. Half of all attending agents were directors, while some 24 Kosa (Korea Overseas Study Association) members were present. Of the 46 educational institutions in attendance, there were 18 representatives from the vocational/tertiary sector as well as five secondary schools.
Satisfaction was high, with many educators impressed with the quality of agents. Dunja E. Burger, International Sales Manager at Carl Duisberg, Germany, said, “It has been good to meet so many Kosa members, something we haven’t been able to do at previous workshops. One agent introduced me to a number of his Kosa colleagues.” She added that the conference had a “friendly, relaxed atmosphere”.
Heung-Dong Oh, President of Korean agency Canaan Education Center, said, “This was a good conference. The quality of the schools was excellent. It was good to have German, Spanish and French schools. There is growing interest in these destinations in Korea.”
Held at the Hotel Okura, Tokyo, the Alphe Japan 2012 conference boasted similar attendance figures. Sixty-eight agents covering 57 agencies and five countries were present at the conference, while 46 schools represented an increase of eight over the previous year.
Agent Mayumi Takano from D-Side Study Abroad, Osaka, was impressed with the range of educators. “Every school we met was unique and offered good-quality services. We are looking for all kinds of programmes and internships, and we could meet educators to cover these needs.” Toshihiko Ohno, Managing Director of Tokyo-based agency Commerce Linkage, expressed similar sentiments. “The educators I met had good knowledge and experience, so I have confidence to promote their schools.”
Both events featured a networking dinner at the respective hotels, preceded by the Directors’ Club drink reception, offering a chance for industry decision makers to meet in an informal setting. See page 63 for more images from the events or the Alphe photo gallery online.
USA tightens conditional admission rules
The US Department of Homeland Security has indicated that institutions will be required to issue separate I-20 visa application documents for students that undertake English language programmes before commencing degrees.
Under the current practice of conditional admission, many colleges issue single I-20s the immigration document issued by certified institutions to support a student’s visa application to students that do not yet meet English language requirements, allowing them to take a course of preparatory English study.
However, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), the department responsible for accreditation of programmes for international students and compliance with student visas, has said that institutions will only be able to issue I-20 forms for the initial period of English study. A second I-20 for academic study may only be issued after students have demonstrated the required English language proficiency.
SEVP has said that rather than a new policy, the announcement is a reinforcement of existing guidelines, which state that all entry requirements must be met before an I-20 is issued for academic study.
The conditional admission offer has sometimes been used as a recruitment tool in markets such as China and concerns have been raised that complicating the issuance of student visas may make the country less competitive in international student recruitment.
Another fear that has been highlighted is that USA consulates in certain overseas posts have sometimes looked more favourably upon I-20 forms relating to full academic study rather than those for language study when considering student visa applications.
In addition, SEVP reported that it was hoping to provide guidelines on the issue for public consultation in early 2013. The guidelines will also cover the role of academic pathway programmes.
Survey track industry trends
The Alto Pulse survey on Q3 2012 business results for 239 participating language schools and 238 agent contributors documented mixed results, with agents reporting more positive business trends.
In terms of overall business growth, 47 per cent of agents reported a better Q3 in 2012 than last year, and 70 per cent were optimistic about Q4. Business for schools, on the other hand, declined slightly, with only 45 per cent reporting growth in Q3 2012 compared with Q3 2011 and 58 per cent hopeful about Q4. Participating German schools had “an astonishing summer”, with 83 per cent recording Q3 growth compared with 2011’s figures. South Africa, the USA and China also experienced high growth rates of around 70 per cent.
On average, Brazil (28 per cent) was highlighted as the largest source market for schools, followed by China (20) and Japan (19). Spanish and South Korean enrolments were in decline, according to schools. Colombian (100 per cent), Turkish (91), Russian (88) and Ukrainian (71) agents experienced higher growth in Q3 compared with 2011.
The USA remains the most attractive study destination, according to the recently released ICEF i-graduate Agent Barometer, completed by a record 1,023 agents from 107 countries.
Seventy-three per cent of agent respondents rated the USA as “very attractive” in the survey, placing it ahead of Canada and the UK, both on 64 per cent. Since the initial 2008 barometer, Canada has risen 15 per cent, more than any of its main competitors.
StudyTravel acquires UK agency
Dutch agency StudyTravel, has announced that it has acquired the UK-based agency Apple Languages/Language Courses Abroad, which went into administration at the end of 2012.
In a joint statement, Jos van Kerkhof, Director of StudyTravel, and Mike Cummins, General Manager of Apple Language Courses, said, “The new company will benefit from the marketing expertise and financial strength of StudyTravel, combined with the existing Internet presence of Apple Language Courses.”
Both agencies are partner agencies of Ialc and the school association was instrumental in brokering an agreement between the two companies. An offer from language school chain Sprachcaffe had also been considered by Apple Languages administrators.
Into partners with Marshall University in the USA
Into University Partnerships and Marshall University, West Virginia, have announced a long-term agreement aimed to increase international student recruitment at the institution, which becomes Into’s fourth partner university in the USA.
The agreement will see Into using its global recruitment network to help enrol students in the Into Marshall programme. Academic preparation and personalised support services will be provided in a renovated on-campus international study centre. The pathway programmes will combine academic coursework and English language training to help students adapt to an American university study environment, and will be delivered by Marshall University instructors.
Dr Stephen J. Kopp, President of Marshall, said the plan was “pioneering” because of its potential global influence on students, the university and the state.
Andrew Colin, Chairman of Into University Partnerships, said, “Marshall offers a small-town, family-like experience that has proven very welcoming to international students. We will build on the strengths of Marshall’s existing programmes and increase access for international students who want to pursue their higher education goals at Marshall.” Marshall University was established in 1837 and is West Virginia’s oldest public higher education institution.
Meanwhile, Into recently hosted what it claimed was the UK’s largest ever agent fam trip. Around 200 advisors from 34 countries participated in the Into One Experience tour of the company’s centres in the UK.
“To deliver the ultimate student experience, we need agents to understand that what we do makes a real difference to the lives of our students.” said Jeremy Histon, Assistant Director for Global Recruitment. “For this to happen, our valued network of recruitment agents around the world need to live and breathe the full Into student experience.”