June 2004 issue

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NZ introduces
X-ray rule

The New Zealand Immigration Service has changed its entrance rules and from April 1, all students studying for more than six months in the country are required to undergo X-ray screening for tuberculosis (TB) prior to entry.
The changes were announced earlier this year as part of a comprehensive review of health screening policies. Immigration Minister, Lianne Dalziel, commented, 'These changes reflect the international environment in which New Zealand operates. With increasing number of travellers visiting New Zealand and increasing numbers of foreign students, it is important to ensure that our publicly-funded health and education systems are not adversely affected.'

For potential students, the new rules mean additional costs, as the X-ray check-up must be paid for. Also, the time allowed by students to apply for a visa would have to be increased to factor in the X-ray. The New Zealand Immigration Service said that as a guideline, an X-ray test in New Zealand costs NZ$100 (US$63).

Students from low-risk countries are exempt from the new rule, but all nationals who have spent a total of three months living in other countries in the last five years will also be expected to present a chest X-ray plate and X-ray certificate to immigration services. Students from South America and Asia are affected by the rule, among others. By the end of the year, the new rules will be extended to require all visitors who are staying in New Zealand for more than 12 months to have a full medical examination.

Dalziel said the new rules were 'more in line with countries like Australia and Canada'. Marcela Amaral, an agent from IE Intercambios in Brazil, confirmed that students already had to satisfy similar requirements if they wanted to study in Australia or Canada. 'I really think this will not affect a student's decision to go to New Zealand,' she told Language Travel Magazine.

In Japan, Kenichi Yokoyama of Ryugaku Journal Inc. agreed. 'Students who go to Australia have to provide similar X-ray certificates, but it's never been a problem [with] the student's decision,' he said. But Yokoyama underlined that the new procedure indicated a tightening up of the visa system. 'We realise that New Zealand's visa procedures are getting stricter,' he stated. 'It is a big headache for us. We could obtain [New Zealand] visas very smoothly compared with other countries. However, we feel like we have lost the last paradise.'

Enlarged EU to bring in business

Last month saw the expansion of the European Union (EU) with 10 new entrants from the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia joining the fold.

A number of governments in the original EU member states have taken measures to limit migrant workers from moving and claiming benefits in other countries, but the outlook for language travel is more positive, with schools in the existing EU countries expecting a rise in the number of students travelling in the region for study purposes.

Graham White, Principal of Eastbourne School of English in the UK, observes that student numbers from Eastern European countries have already been on the rise, since the accession into the EU for these countries was agreed. 'I don't expect there to be an enormous surge of bookings this year,' he said, 'but I do think that bookings will increase further as economic conditions improve and English language skills become essential for anyone pursuing a professional career.'

White singled out the Czech Republic, Poland, Latvia and Hungary as showing the most positive signs for growth in the future. He commented, 'Whereas in the past, Polish students invariably chose the cheapest courses, they are now beginning to enrol on more expensive, intensive courses.' He also underlined that seasonality was less typical of some of these markets now.

In France, Eleri Maitland of French in Normandy agreed that Eastern European nationalities have been rising in number every year. 'So far as I can see, there will be a greater level of exchange between East and West, with more students coming here rather than going further afield,' she said. 'We are getting requests for two language courses - French with English too - which we can do as we offer other languages to French learners. I think this is an interesting development.'

UK industry valued at UK£10.3 billion

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the British Council have jointly funded a study into the value of the UK's Education and Training export industry. In the 2001/2002 academic year, the industry was valued at UK£10.3 billion (US$18.4 billion).

Of this figure, the English language teaching industry was estimated to earn UK£1.3 billion (US$2.3 billion). And education and training export earnings overall have grown by around five per cent each year for the last 10 years, estimated Neil Kemp at the British Council.

The study was undertaken to provide a new methodology to calculate the value of international education to the UK.

Tony Millns, Chief Executive of English UK, said, 'This is an extremely rigorous study and the best piece of work done in many years. It provides a strong case for increased promotion of UK education and training abroad, with accredited English language teaching a priority sector.'

Millns explained that with the five-year plan known as the Prime Minister's Initiative - which has already reached its target for expanding international student numbers in the higher education system - scheduled to end in 2005, there was a question mark over ensuing industry direction.

Stephen Brown, Chief Executive of UKTI, commended the findings and said, 'This study, and the Vision 2020 report [forecasting international student mobility, launched at the same time], demonstrates that the government support network, in dialogue with the industry, needs to look over the horizon to ensure the continued success and growth of UK education and training.'

Director General of the British Council, David Green, added, 'New investment is essential... to combat increasing competition from countries such as the USA, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore and to ensure high quality in the provision of education.'

Pacific Gateway Study Group is born

A new language school alliance has emerged in the marketplace, as Pacific Gateway International Colleges, with three centres in Canada and one in Australia, has joined forces with two US schools and one in South Africa to form the Pacific Gateway Study Group.

Intercultural Communications College in Honolulu, HI; CEL, College of English Language in San Diego, CA; and Cape Studies in Cape Town make up the marketing group. Vice-President, Giovanna Santiago, said, 'We base our unique group on three core values: commitment to excellence, 100 per cent satisfaction guaranteed and quality assurance. This makes our members distinctive from other English language schools.'

Jens von Wichtingen at Cape Studies said he expected the new strategic alliance to improve the international mix at his school. 'We hope to welcome more clients from Japan, Korea and South America and have already added three classrooms,' he said.

Regent hits 40-year milestone

UK-based Regent Language Training, which has centres in seven different locations in the UK as well as a home tuition and language holiday department, celebrated 40 years in the business in March this year with a party for long-standing agent partners and current and ex-Regent staff.

Geoff Hardy-Gould, Managing Director of Regent, said, 'We wanted to thank everyone who has helped make Regent a success over the years. The company has gone from strength to strength, thanks to our enthusiastic staff, close relationships with international partners and company-wide dedication to customer service.'

The first Regent school opened in London's Oxford Street in 1964 and the company grew to include residential summer centres and a school in Brighton. In 1994, Regent merged with Godmer House Group to incorporate Margate and Oxford centres. Regent Edinburgh, Trebinshun in Wales and Cambridge now complete the school group.

Taiwan's president encourages study abroad

In an effort to ingratiate himself with Taiwan's young population, President Chen Shui-ban has said his government will offer loans to students who want to study abroad. 'I encourage the young generation to continue their advanced education abroad, whether in the USA, Japan, European countries or Australia,' he said during a TV show.

He added that students should follow their undergraduate degree in Taiwan, rather than in China, 'because of Taiwan's high academic standards', according to an article in TaiwanNews.com

Chen also promised start-up loans for young businesses and new venues for professional baseball and music concerts.

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