||UK schools demand government apology
Members of English UK have instructed lawyers to demand a full retraction and apology from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) after it incorrectly included them on a list of colleges “banned” from bringing in international students.
The organisation is coordinating action by at least 22 member schools that were placed on the list released by UKBA in November. The government now requires all colleges that wish to sponsor student visas of one year or more to be inspected by ISI or QAA. The UKBA release referred to 474 “banned” institutions, but did not clearly distinguish between 51 colleges blacklisted for malpractice and the majority that voluntarily chose not to apply. Not all of the institutions were named and news organisations including the Associated Press and Sky News later removed the list from their websites.
The affected English UK schools had decided to withdraw from this inspection regime as they only run summer schools or short courses of up to 11 months. English UK stressed that all are fully accredited by its quality assurance arm, Accreditation UK, and that they meet high inspection standards, can legitimately teach international students and have not been banned in any way.
“We are coordinating action over the way in which the Home Office allowed it to be inferred that all the colleges on the list were bogus, fronts for illegal immigration, or of poor education quality,” said Tony Millns, Chief Executive of English UK. A legal letter to UKBA states, “Such misinformation so far as it relates to our clients is untrue, defamatory, and gravely damaging to their goodwill and reputations. This letter therefore seeks an immediate apology and retraction.”
Abls Accreditation said it supported the move by English UK and had previously requested to UKBA that they clearly state which schools had chosen not to apply. “It is outrageous that a press release of this nature was released with no apparent thought for the consequences of such an action,” said Executive Director, Diana Lowe. The British Accreditation Council, which accredits independent further and higher education colleges, confirmed it was considering responses on behalf of its members featured on the list.
According to a report in The Guardian, senior UKBA officials said that they would not be apologising and that ministers had made it clear that colleges listed were not necessarily those with poor education standards. At the time of writing, two schools from the affected group were coordinating further action.
Clubclass arrives in London
Malta-based English language school, Clubclass, has announced the opening of a new centre in London’s Bloomsbury district.
Accepting students from April 2012, the school will be located near restaurants, theatres and public gardens and within walking distance of the Oxford Street shopping area. “From our experience, the location of a school, especially in a place like London, is of utmost importance,” said Joe Aquilina, the school’s Managing Director. A full range of accommodation options will be available.
Clubclass has been operating East Finchley School of English for two years and will be transferring staff and British Council accreditation to the new location. An ISI inspection is scheduled for October, which will allow sponsorship of one-year student visas.
“We intend to offer students a superior learning experience with personal and tailor-made attention,” said Alex Fenech, Clubclass Sales and Marketing Director. “The school is fully equipped with all modern amenities including high speed Wi-Fi, audio visual aids, a students’ lounge, interactive whiteboards in all classrooms, an Internet café and a library from which students can borrow books and DVDs.” Clubclass London will have ten classrooms and teach general English, business English and exam preparation courses.
International enrolment growth in the USA
The number of international students at colleges and universities in the USA increased by five per cent to 723,277 during the 2010/11 academic year, according to the recently released Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education (IIE).
It is the fifth consecutive year of growth reported and there are now 32 per cent more international students than there were a decade ago. “Because of the excellence and diversity of our colleges and universities, more students worldwide are choosing to study in the United States,” said Ann Stock, Assistant Secretary of State.
China increased by 23 percentage points, constituting 22 per cent of the total international student body comfortably the largest source country. Recently, the USA announced an increase in consular officers in China to cope with the surging demand for visas. There was also double digit growth in students from Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Iran and Venezuela.
The report showed that the number of international students at undergraduate level (291,439) is once again on a par with those at graduate level (296,574). The University of Southern California remains the leading host institution with 8,615 overseas students. Using the Open Doors data, Nafsa estimated that foreign students contributed US$20.23 billion to the US economy in 2010/2011.
New name, logo and expansion for Open Hearts
From this month Open Hearts International College in the USA will now officially be known as Open Hearts Language Academy (OHLA) and has launched a new logo to accompany the change of name.
Open Hearts has also announced the expansion of its main campus in Miami, FL. The academy, in a bay front location in the Brickell area, now has 18 teaching classrooms equipped with flat screen TVs, computers and full Wi-Fi access. The state-of-the-art facility accommodates 250 students and will expand again in June 2012 with the opening of its Graduate Studies Center, which will primarily focus on university and exam preparation courses.
Jenny Nieveen, the founder of Open Hearts, said, “We are happy to be able to provide our students with these new surroundings that will significantly enhance the learning experience.”
Belta survey forecasts Brazil’s growth
The number of Brazilians opting to study abroad in 2010 was 167,432, according to a survey commissioned by the Brazilian Education & Language Travel Association (Belta).
The research, which aimed to map the 2010 oubound student market in Brazil, surveyed 71 agencies and estimated that student numbers could increase by approximately 30 per cent in 2011. Continued growth has also been forecast for 2012. Official figures for 2011 will be released in March/April 2012.
The growth of business from the middle class (Brazil’s Class C) was a notable finding from the research, with 10 per cent of companies saying that this class represented half of their movements. Canada was cited as the first choice study abroad option for around 60 per cent of students, with the reasons including cost, ease of acquiring visas, quality of education and hospitality. The USA (21.1 per cent) and the UK (15.5 per cent) were second and third respectively. Language courses were the most popular product, constituting around 60 per cent of all sales, followed by high school programmes with 22.5 per cent.
“This research shows how international education is important for Brazilian students. With the good situation of the Brazilian economy, a wider range of people can study abroad,” said Maura Leão, President of Belta. “This is a great moment for international schools to invest in Brazil in order to increase their markets in this country. Our students want an international experience.”
As a sign of continued optimism, 89 per cent of the participating agencies have expectations of a 40 per cent increase in sales over the next three years.
Surge in applications for CEA accreditation
The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) has experienced a hike in applications following a change in the law that requires all English language training programmes for international students in the USA to be accredited by an agency recognised by the US Secretary of Education.
The new legislation was passed in December 2010 and gave non-accredited schools that were certified by SEVP (Student and Visitor Program) until 14 December 2011 to apply for accreditation. English language programmes in colleges and universities will continue to benefit from the accreditation of the larger institution.
Teresa O’Donnell, Executive Director at CEA, advised that the new law has already had a significant impact. CEA has maintained an average of 40 programmes and schools in-process of seeking accreditation over the past few years, but by late November this figure had reached 140 with more expected. CEA is currently on a recruitment drive for additional reviewers to meet this demand for site visits.
O’Donnell said the change in accreditation law would benefit the industry. “The CEA accreditation process leads to on-going programme improvement as programmes strive to meet the CEA standards. The field at large will benefit from schools being held to internationally recognised standards, as will students who attend those schools,” she said. Accreditation will need to be completed before December 2013.
Neas contracted for Cricos audit services
Neas, Australia’s English language teaching accreditation body, has been selected as a specialist provider of audit services in Australia’s international education sector by ASQA (Australian Skills Quality Authority), the government regulator of the industry.
Neas will provide audit services for Elicos (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students), Foundation programmes and for Cricos (Commonwealth Register of Courses for Overseas Students) registration purposes.
Over the past 12 months Neas has been in consultation with ASQA around a role in monitoring national Elicos standards. Neas will continue its long-standing ELT accreditation role and English language providers that have current Neas accreditation will be accepted by ASQA as meeting the requirements for Cricos registration.
Monitoring Foundation programmes is a new area for Neas, and the organisation said it is a good fit with the pathway courses for tertiary study it already accredits. Discussions with foundation providers have been fruitful in establishing processes.
In addition, Neas has been contracted to monitor the National Code of Practice standards for Elicos and Foundation providers. The standards set out specifications and procedures to ensure that registered providers of education for international students can clearly understand and comply with their obligations under the code.
Anne Holmes, Executive Director of Neas, said, “We are delighted that Neas and ASQA have developed a strong working relationship in these additional areas of audit.”
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