||Associations challenge UKBA legislation
English UK (EUK) has issued a challenge to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) over changes to visa legislation concerning the accreditation of English language schools.
The legislation introduced in April this year requires that all schools wishing to enrol student visa holders be accredited by one of eight approved bodies such Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate. However, Tony Millns, Chief Executive Officer at EUK, has pointed out that, due to a legislative loophole, none of these accrediting bodies are legally empowered to accredit private colleges. He said, “The Home Secretary has set a condition which is impossible to meet and then has imposed a penalty for not meeting the impossible condition. This is irrational.”
Schools must receive accreditation by 2012 and until being accredited can only enrol student visa holders at a limited level. Schools will still be able to enrol visitor (rather than student) visa holders, which allow students to study for up to 11 months. Millns said that the government has not scheduled any discussions to resolve the issue, forcing EUK to begin preliminary legal proceedings. UKBA has been invited to counter EUK’s claims regarding the accreditation loophole.
Meanwhile, Study UK, which represents private vocational colleges is lobbying against changes to working rights for international students. New rules coming into effect in July mean that Tier 4 students at private colleges may only work part-time for 10 hours per week, compared with the 20 hours available to university students. The distinction remains even when students are undertaking recognised UK degree courses at private colleges, and Study UK is challenging the regulations as irrational, unfair and damaging to private HE providers’ ability to compete internationally.
A respected think tank, Centre Forum, has been enlisted to produce an independent report that will assess the proposals and their impact. The report will be sent to parliamentarians, civil servants, advisers and the media.
EAC launches new venue for language camps
UK-based junior language course provider EAC has announced it will be providing summer camps for international students at a new venue this year.
Undergoing multi-million pound refurbishment works, Condover Hall in Shropshire, a Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house, will host junior language camps, offering a range of activities including abseiling, archery, climbing, fencing and swimming, throughout July and August. The venue features a number of brand new facilities, including en suite accommodation, a themed “spells room” and “laser room” and has capacity for 500 children.
Paul McKinney, Operations General Manager of Spanish agency Newlink, said, “In my opinion, Condover Hall is one the best residential centres that I have seen and I think it can be a great success. As soon as you enter the driveway it has a magical feel to it and the facilities available to the students are second to none.”
The site was acquired by leading schools and groups organiser JCA part of the TUI Education group from the Priory Group in a multi-million pound deal. EAC, also part of the TUI Education network, will have access to the site during the summer months.
Dublin school ceases trading
The Dublin Business and Language (DBL) College in Ireland has ceased trading, leaving several further education and English language students to be placed with alternative providers. A closure statement on DBL’s website stated, “It is with regret that, due to a downturn in student numbers, DBL College is closed with effect from 13/05/11.”
David O’Grady, Chief Executive Officer at MEI, the Irish association representing English language schools, confirmed that all language students had been successfully placed elsewhere. “MEI is always sad that a member school closes, but in line with policy from learner protection, to which members sign, existing students in an MEI school at the time of closure will be accepted for the remaining period of the course.” O’Grady advised that 41 students, mainly from Venezuela and Brazil, were moved with a minimum of disruption, and that neighbouring Dublin schools were very accommodating.
Students on FETAC (Further Education and Training Awards Council) courses have also now been re-assigned, with Nursing Studies students transferring to Abbey College, Dublin, and students on all other FETAC courses moving to Dorset College, Dublin.
Nacac members to vote on advisor usage
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (Nacac) has asked members to comment and vote on the clarification of its good practice guidelines for members, which could ban paying commission to agents/study advisors who recruit international students.
Nacac’s Statement of Principles of Good Practice stipulates that members should not offer or accept any reward or remuneration from agents or organisations that enrol students on a college’s behalf. This policy is in line with a US law pertaining to domestic students. But as the law does not relate to international students, paying commission to agents for recruiting international students has become more popular among US institutions in recent times. In order to clear up this grey area for members, Nacac’s Board of Directors has since proposed adding a statement that their good practice principles apply equally to all employees and contracted agents working inside or outside of the USA.
The draft policy notes that members would be able to use agents and pay them a salary for their work but would not be able to pay them commission based on the number of students recruited. “We believe that the use of agents who are compensated in the form of bonus or other incentive payment on the basis of the number of students recruited or enrolled creates an environment in which misrepresentation and conflicts of interest are unavoidable,” said the draft policy statement.
In a 2010 admissions trends survey of 421 Nacac members, just over 20 per cent admitted using agents to recruit international students and of those that used agents, over 50 per cent paid agents a commission fee based on the course fee of the institution.
John Duepree, Executive Director at the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) in the USA, said, “We believe that far from being unethical, commission-based payments to professional agencies which have delivered highly qualified students, based on qualifications an institution has set, have proven to be a highly effective practice in major global education markets and provide a significant strategic advantage to institutions.”
Global Village to rebrand as Lexis English
The Australian arm of Global Village will rebrand as Lexis English from September this year.
With centres in Brisbane, Byron Bay, Noosa, Perth and the Sunshine Coast, Lexis is one of the largest, privately-owned Elicos providers in the country and although the ownership, management, marketing and curriculum will remain unchanged, the new brand, website and marketing collateral is intended to identify Lexis more strongly as an Australian provider, vouched Marketing Director, Martin McDonald. He added that the logo, inspired by an aboriginal design, depicts a meeting place or peaceful gathering of the tribes.
Academies Australasia acquires Benchmark College
Academies Australasia Group (AKG) has agreed to acquire 51 per cent of Benchmark Resources Pty in Australia, trading as Benchmark College, for AUS$5,712,000 (US$6,096,051) with the option to acquire additional equity.
The New South Wales-based Benchmark College was established in 1998 and offers qualifications in areas such as business, human resources and children’s services. Following completion current owners, Philip and Bridget Carroll, will continue as Managing and Executive Director, respectively.
Benchmark will be the ninth institution in the group, which focuses primarily on the international education market. Christopher Campbell, Group Managing Director of AKG, said, “My colleagues and I are delighted that Benchmark College will be joining [the group]. We have been looking to diversify into the domestic education market for some time and are pleased to have been able to attract a quality college with the scope and standing that Benchmark has, as well as the expertise and reputation of Philip and Bridget Carroll.”
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