||Spanish scholarship for English in Malta reduced
English language schools in Malta are preparing for a decrease in Spanish students, after the Spanish government reduced the Becas MEC scholarship available for study in the country.
Eligible students will now receive e1,200 (US$1,737) for a three-week course, compared with a previous entitlement of e1,700 (US$2,460). The full scholarship remains for students planning to study English in the UK or Ireland and has been increased for the USA and Australia.
Isabelle Pace Warrington, Executive Officer of language school association, Feltom, said, “We were informed that the reason for reducing the scholarship for Malta was because of a lower cost of living [here]. While courses are perhaps marginally cheaper than they are in the UK and Ireland, figures show that there is not a 30 per cent difference in costs. By increasing the scholarship to the US and Australia, it appears that the Spanish government is encouraging Spaniards to travel outside Europe.” She added that the reduction would likely have a negative impact on the number of students choosing to learn English in Malta this summer.
National Statistics Office figures show that in 2010 Spanish students accounted for 33,679 student weeks, 18.4 per cent of the total and comfortably the largest group. However, Michelle Falzon at EC Malta, said, “Although the Spanish market is very important to us, our summer operation is not entirely dependent on it. We consider every market to be important as variation ensures a good nationality mix.”
New promotional agency for New Zealand
A new Agency is to take over the promotion of New Zealand as a study destination to help encourage international students back to the country. The agency will combine government-funded promotional, representational and other functions and activities that are currently carried out by three separate agencies; the Ministry of Education, Education New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce, said, “International education contributes more than NZ$2 billion (US$1.6 billion) to our economy and supports about 32,000 jobs but, to this point, efforts to promote growth have been fragmented.” He added, “Remedying this and ensuring our efforts are well-coordinated and efficient is even more important in the post-earthquake environment.”
The new agency will operate under the name Education New Zealand and is supported by Education New Zealand staff. Education New Zealand Chair, Hon David Caygill, said, “The government has signalled that it wishes a greater level of direct involvement in return for greater levels of investment from the taxpayer. The Education New Zealand board have accepted this proposal from the Minister and have agreed to the inclusion of Education New Zealand’s functions and staff in the new crown agency.” It is hoped the new agency will be up and running by September.
Ireland launches trusted agents scheme in India
The Irish Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, has introduced a new trusted agents programme in India as part of a plan to promote Irish higher education in the country. The announcement was made at a workshop in New Delhi involving 11 Irish third-level institutions and 25 Indian education agents.
Minister Bruton said “More than 100,000 Indian students travel overseas for education every year. Around 1,000 of these currently come to Ireland. [This] initiative is part of an ambitious strategy by this government to achieve a significant increase in that number, thus making a major contribution to achieving growth in employment and in the economy generally.”
The trusted agent scheme is part of Ireland’s ‘Investing in Global Relationships: Ireland’s International Education Strategy, 2010-2015’. The project will see Enterprise Ireland offices overseas developing lists of trusted agents and designated Ireland-specialist agents entitled to use the Education Ireland brand. Training tools for agents including agent packs and online training will be developed.
The pilot programme in India, supported by a marketing and communications fund of four million rupees (US$90,131) covered by Enterprise Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills and the Irish higher education sector, will eventually be rolled out across other countries in the future.
“Ireland’s relationship with education agents is critical in communicating the benefits of Ireland as a quality education destination to discerning Indian students. The objective of the new programme is to move Ireland up the agenda of education agents in India and make it easier for them to recommend Ireland as a quality education destination to the students they counsel,” Minister Bruton concluded.
Language students flee Japan
International students have been caught up in the aftermath of the devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck the Pacific Coast of Japan in March, with many leaving the country as a consequence.
Tohoku University, located in Miyagi prefecture, one of the worst hit regions, has a large population of foreign students, many of whom had returned home in the aftermath, said the univeristy’s Mikihiro Watanabe. “About 80 per cent of our international students have gone back to their home country,” he explained, adding that thankfully the university’s staff and students were safe, but that there was some minor damage to campus buildings and Spring semester classes had been delayed.
Sendai Language School, also in Miyagi, similarly delayed lessons. Miyuki Shiratori reported, “Originally we planned to start the April course on April 6, but we rescheduled the starting date to April 18.” Power and food shortages in the city are no longer an issue, “I can tell by that day, April 18, most of the conditions came back to normal for living in Sendai,” added Shiratori, who also advised that most students went home immediately afterwards, but that many had already returned.
Although the capital of Tokyo, about 400km from the epicentre, was largely unaffected, Yo Munezai from Kai Language School reported that, “just over 10 per cent of our students went home, most of these were from Sweden or Korea.” Munezai also added that many students that were planning to come to study in Tokyo had postponed their visit, rather than cancelled.
The Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) reported that the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami stood at 13,843 with a further 14,030 missing.
Meanwhile, a group of international students from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies grouped together with professors after the disaster to set up a multilingual website for foreign residents in Japan. The information can be accessed at http://nip0.wordpress.com/. MOFA has also set up a designated website with information regarding visa extensions and reissue procedures for those affected that left the country; www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/incidents/index.html.
Further education group launched in South Africa
The South Africa Education Group (SACEG) has been established by IH Cape Town in association with a number of tertiary education providers, in order to cater to the growing demand from overseas students for further education in the country.
Gavin Eyre, Managing Director at IH Cape Town, explained, “We hope to tap into the international markets that are looking for degree and further education courses after their initial language course. The market is relatively small at present, however it has a huge potential for growth from the BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India and China] as well as the SADC (Southern African Development Community).”
The International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA) estimated that 64,000 international students studied in South Africa during 2010.
Eyre added that there are several benefits to studying in South Africa, including the relative low cost of courses and living, internatioanl recognition including partnerships with UK and US institutions, and the wide variety of courses available.
The International Hotel School; Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion Design; Exercise Training and Sport Academy; Isa Carstens Health and Skin Care Academy and City Varsity are among its current membership.
Licence suspended at UK university
Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) has become the first UK university to have its license to sponsor foreign students suspended after suspicions that a number of international students were working full-time.
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) carried out routine inspections on the institution and raised concerns about the amount of work being undertaken by around 150 non-EU students on the university’s BSC Nursing (Professional Development) course.
Under new immigration rules only Highly Trusted Sponsors are permitted to sponsor international students for Tier 4 visas. All public universities automatically achieved this status. Phil Taylor, Regional Director of UKBA in Scotland and Northern Ireland told the UK’s Daily Telegraph, “I can confirm that GCU’s Tier 4 licence has been suspended following concerns about abuses of the immigration system. Highly Trusted Sponsors bringing in international students must ensure that they are attending the course for which they are enrolled and that they are complying with the requirements of the immigration rules.”
A spokesman form the university described the action as “disproportionate,” but said it would work with the authorities to resolve the issue.
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