All non-EU students to have ID cards in UK
Students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) extending or varying their leave to remain in the UK will be issued with a biometric ID card from November this year. The policy will roll out to all non-EEA students from April 2009, tying in with the new sponsor-based visa system. Foreign students are considered to be a high-risk group and so are the first category of foreign visitors to be hit by the new rules, along with possible others such as those entering the country on a marriage visa.
The policy follows the fingerprinting of all visa applicants that has been in place since January and is part of the UK Borders Act. The ID cards will contain unique biometric data and a photo, showing a student’s immigration status and entitlements (whether they can work) and how long they can stay in the UK.
UK Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, said, “Identity cards will benefit foreign nationals who need to produce evidence of their identity and entitlement to services. Locking people to one identity will help in our fight against human trafficking, illegal working and benefit fraud.”
An example of fraud was given of a failed asylum seeker remaining in the UK and passing themselves off as a student from a different country with ID cards for students, such fraud would be impossible. The ID cards are also intended to offer greater scope for security checks from businesses, colleges and public agencies according to the Border & Immigration Agency (BIA).
“This [policy] will help to deny the privileges of the UK to those here illegally and help businesses and colleges fulfil their licence obligations as sponsors for migrants coming to the UK,” stated BIA, which explained that as well as checking to see if a photo matched, employers and educational institutions could use a telephone checking service to ensure the authenticity of ID cards. Foreign nationals will not be expected to carry the card with them at all times but to produce it when required.
Meanwhile, some universities in the UK are complaining about the new reporting requirements expected of them when the visa system changes next year. BIA must be notified of any non-EEA student absence of more than 10 days. Sir Howard Davies, Director of the London School of Economics, wrote to ministers with concerns related to PhD and Masters students with relaxed timetabling.
And the University of Central Lancashire’s new administrator, Helen Eastham, employed specifically to deal with the new visa system, said, “While we accept the government’s rationale regarding reporting non-approved attendance [quickly], there is a concern that pressure to provide information too early could result in flawed data, which benefits neither the student, the institution nor BIA.”
EC opens second school in USA
International school association, Ialc, which limits its membership to schools with five centres or fewer, has announced six new members to join its ranks.
Mandarin House, with branches in Beijing and Shanghai, is one of the schools to have recently joined the association. Jan Capper, Executive Director of Ialc, commented, “We are particularly pleased to welcome Mandarin House. This is a dynamic, quality-focused organisation in a country whose language and culture are increasingly important to a whole range of language travel clients.”
The other five new Ialc members are spread throughout the world and include National School of Languages in Ottawa, Canada; Colchester English Study Centre in Colchester, UK; Margate Language Centre in Margate, UK; French in Normandy in Rouen, France; and Ecela Peru in Lima, Peru sister school of member Ecela in Argentina and Chile.
Vietnam boosts English study
English language tuition will be introduced across primary schools in Vietnam, according to Vietnam News Agency, as part of the Ministry of Education and Training’s US$300 million project to improve English competency by 2020. In the 2008/2009 academic year, primary schools located in cities and provinces with the infrastructure to start English tuition will do so, but many provinces lack the resources needed.
Deputy Prime Minster at the Education Ministry, Nguyen Thien Nhan, said the aim of the project was to “turn student competence in English to an advantage in 10-to-15 years”. School graduates will be expected to reach a Toefl score of 500 under the new scheme.
Alphe Workshop visits two continents
Working with key agent associations in Asia and South America, the Alphe Workshop team staged two successful events in Thailand and Brazil earlier this year. Alphe Asia took place in Bangkok and with support from Tieca, Vieca (Vietnam) and Ikpii (Indonesia), close to 100 agents attended from 11 countries.
Jessica Mathieu, Agent Organiser, said that higher education was a key interest among Asian agents, who were pleased to see more higher education institutions in attendance this year. The united image presented by the many British Council-accredited UK schools was also appreciated.
“I found some very interesting schools,” commented Supaporn Charoenchaimongkol of Education Abroad in Thailand, who was focusing on the UK.
Educator Wilf Cleave from Avalon School of English in the UK was also pleased with the event. “I had good meetings,” he said. “The event ran more smoothly and naturally with a high quality of agents and it was very friendly.” Greg Murphy from Golden Hills School Division in Canada noted that there was “time to interact”.
In Sao Paulo, Alphe Latin America took place just one week later, welcoming 63 education providers and 120 agents, including many members of Brazilian agency association, Belta, which held its ExpoBelta event just before the Alphe workshop.
“I believe we had an excellent chance to meet some new partners and make some good deals,” said Rodrigo Roscoe from Upgrade Intercambio in Brazil. “Alphe brought good vibrations and I’m sure we will have a great season afterwards.” Marcia Coredeiro Nassif of AG Study in Brazil added, “My highlight this year was the high quality of the educational institutions taking part.”
The nationality mix of educators was very diverse, with the UK, USA, Canada and Australia represented as well as New Zealand, Ireland, Malta, Austria, Italy and Spain. Agents were mainly from Brazil, with others from Colombia, Argentina, Panama and Bolivia. Lisa Audino at Linguatime School of English in Malta commented, “There was great interest and no ‘no shows’ and the event was well organised.”
Prime Education buys Kings Group
Kings Group has become the first company purchased by Prime Education in the UK, which has ambitions to be a mid-sized global player in the international education market.
Kings Group, run by Bob Watts, was a family-run group of language schools in Bournemouth, Oxford and London, UK, offering a range of English language programmes, summer schools and university pathway programmes including A-levels and foundation studies.
Andrew Hutchinson, Director of Prime Education, said, “[Kings] is exceptionally well positioned to meet the fast-growing worldwide demand for English language training and university-linked studies and is the perfect launch pad for Prime Education in the UK.”
Swiss value English above other languages
A study by Switzerland’s National Science Foundation into second language acquisition has revealed that English is considered most useful as a second language despite it not being one of the country’s four official languages or the most widely spoken second language among citizens.
Iwar Werlen of Bern University, who led the study, said eight out of ten respondents to the survey nominated English first, with more than nine out of ten respondents in the German part of Switzerland opting for this language as most useful. Nevertheless, French was the preferred option to study in German-speaking Switzerland and German was preferred to English in the French-speaking part (47 to 43 per cent).
On average, Swiss speak two foreign languages while the Dutch speak an average of 2.2 and Luxembourgers speak three.
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