||School developments in South Africa
The IHLS Group, based in Spain, has acquired a shareholding in the IH Cape Town Language Institute in South Africa.
Jonathan Dykes, CEO of the group, which comprises 10 language schools and two other language related companies, said, “Cape Town is rapidly becoming one of the foremost destinations for students to study English. Its breathtaking beauty and diverse range of activities greatly enhances the experience for visiting students. In addition, as a host country of the FIFA 2010 World Cup, we recognise the immense potential of Cape Town as a language and travel destination.”
Another school owner to realise the potential of Cape Town as a study destination is Ann Piscopo, formerly of Geos Cape Town Language Centre.
Having launched the English Language School of Cape Town, back in January, Piscopo notes she was keen to branch out on her own. “I believe that schools are too concerned with increasing the number of branches they have worldwide; with this type of outlook the focus on the local school is lost and it does not get the attention it needs to grow and prosper,” she states. With this ethos in mind she has established a school whose onus is on smaller class sizes. “Class sizes are kept to a maximum of 10 students and all lessons are 55 minutes in duration, ensuring that students receive a lot of attention, support, encouragement and the best value and time for their money,” she asserts.
Also in the city, Shane Global Cape Town in South Africa, which closed down last month, has been taken over by Gina Pardenwachter and renamed Cape English Language School. Pardenwachter, who worked at Shane Global Cape Town for nine years, said that the new school opened two weeks after it officially closed down following investment from the landlord of the building where the school is located. “The landlord saw this as a good business opportunity and I have the knowledge and the experience to run the school,” she said, adding that it would offer the same courses and utilise the same agent network.
WETM conference shows promise
The seventh Work Experience Travel Market and IAPA Conference, which took place in Miami, FL, in the USA has been deemed a success by organisers and delegates.
Over 250 work abroad, volunteering, cultural exchange and au pair professionals, representing 182 organisations, gathered for the three-day event in March, which held sector-focussed seminars as well as one-on-one business meetings.
Joe Solomon, Head of Sales and Marketing at KTPA London & OPUS Paid Work and Study programme part of the Kaplan group noted that it was the first time the conference had taken place outside of Europe. “Overall, the event was well organised, however, there was a huge Latin American contingent which was great but it’s usually a little more diverse,” he said, adding that, as a destination, it was perhaps a little too far for European agents to travel. Marc Lankamp from Travelplus Group in Germany related that, location wise, it was easy to reach, however. “The fact that Miami is sunny did not hurt either after the winter we had!” he added. He also praised the online scheduling system utilised by the organisation.
Meanwhile, Karla Torres from Ordex Cultural Exchange in Ecuador a first-time WETM delegate also found the locale “perfect”. “For South American agencies Miami is a place where you can get affordable flights and the time you spend to get there is good,” she said.
The event was complemented by an extensive seminar programme that looked to address industry concerns such as the impact of new visa policies and how the Obama administration proposes to boost student exchanges to and from the USA.
Student visa fraud ring uncovered in the USA
A Florida-based language school is at the centre of an alleged visa scam which has led to the arrest of 81 student visa holders studying at the school.
According to newspaper reports, Lydia Menocal, owner of the Florida Language Institute in Miami, FL, and employee Ofelia Macia have been charged with violating laws enacted after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The duo are thought to have made in excess of US$2.4 million over a three year period selling US student visas to foreign nationals who had no intention of attending a course at the school.
An investigation by immigration officials launched in 2007 and entitled “Operation Class Dismissed” found that just five per cent of enrolees at the institute actually attended class regularly. “It’s a systemic failure to report to class, not a vacation day here and there,” related Anthony Mangione, Chief of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Miami Office.
In other news, a 46-year old Californian resident has been convicted of mass visa fraud by orchestrating a scheme which saw imposters sitting language exams on behalf of foreign nationals.
French school reopens
BLS Ecole de Francais in France has reopened after being taken over by the Insitut Parisien de Francais Langue Etrangere in Paris. Xavier Loustaunau, Managing Director of the school confirmed that the school was closed in December 2009 but reopened at the beginning of March this year.
He added, “BLS is still located in the same building both in Bordeaux and Biarritz and some of the staff have been recruited by the new owner. Courses remain the same as before as well as prices, dates, terms and conditions.”
The school initially filed for bankruptcy back in December 2009, citing the recession and irrevocable costs allotted to staff redundancies employment law in France stipulates that redundancies on economic grounds are subject to separate and complex procedural and substantive constraints, with employers liable to pay substantial redundancy payouts.
However, Directors Damien Renaux and Xavier Loustaunau were optimistic a takeover would manifest itself and numerous discussions with potential angel investors were purported to have taken place in the new year.
The Paris-based private institute for higher education assumed control of assets such as the BLS brand, business contacts and web domain back in March. Loustaunau added, “BLS is stronger now and can face potential market difficulties in future. So clients can trust BLS again!”
Lively debate at fourth Going Global
Broad consensus on the gradual increase and many benefits of cross-border and international education was one of the main outcomes at the British Council’s fourth annual Going Global event, which each year examines issues across the international education marketplace.
The event, which was held in London earlier this year and attracted 1,200 delegates, saw many high-profile names convene to discuss future strategies and goals within the global higher education sector.
The keynote debate featured representation from Russia, India, Brazil, China, Thailand, the UK, Australia and the USA. Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of Unesco Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (based in Thailand) called for greater intra-Asian educational travel. He pointed out that Asia sees high levels of student mobility, with two-thirds of those studying in another country leaving the Asia-Pacific region, compared with a figure more like eight per cent for students within Europe leaving Europe.
Professor Isak Froumin, Lead Education Specialist for Europe and Central Asia at the World Bank in Russia, meanwhile, pointed to more joint-degree programmes as key to building a greater global consensus within the education world. Connecting education and industry internationally was a call made by a number of keynote panellists, while Professor Simon Marginson from the University of Melbourne in Australia underlined that “knowledge is a public good” in our changing world.
The two-day event featured a number of consecutive sessions on all aspects of global higher education, such as benchmarking, partnerships and country-specific case studies. Representatives from universities in China as well as the Chinese Ministry of Education hosted a session on China 2020: the internationalisation agenda, in which the country’s first national policy on the internationalisation of education was also underlined.
Meanwhile, Tony Millns of English UK joined a panel focusing on perceptions of the UK international experience, based on a poll of 2,257 students undertaken by i-graduate. The survey found that 44 per cent of students had used an education agent to find their language school/centre, while 48 per cent had applied direct. When asked if they were working or studying in addition to their language course, 70 per cent noted that they were not.
GEOS Europe buy out confirmed
The three Geos schools located in the UK and one in France have been bought out by Wendy Teraoka (previously Regional Director of Geos Europe) and Paul Clark (previously Principal of Geos-LTC in Eastbourne, UK).
Teraoka told Language Travel Magazine that the three UK schools located in London, Brighton and Eastbourne would be known as Language Teaching Centres UK, while the French school, located in Paris, would retain its name of Executive Language Services (ELS). Teraoka has worked for Geos for 16 years and has been Regional Director of Geos Europe since 2006.