Student visas resume at NZ colleges after court ruling
A New Zealand private training establishment (PTE) has described a suspension of student visas by Immigration New Zealand as “a travesty” and “shattering”, after the suspension was lifted following a judicial review.
In the High Court review instigated by Edenz Colleges, Justice Richard Young found that INZ’s action in halting student visas was unlawful as it relied on the wrong parts of the immigration act and gave institutions no chance to respond to allegations.
“We were shattered that INZ lobbed accusations at us, suspended our student visas without listening to any response to those accusations, and then immediately went public,” said Tim Cooper, Founder of Edenz Colleges, based in Auckland and Tauranga. “They have damaged the reputation of a 25-year-old business known throughout the world and could have stopped us enrolling for 2013.”
As reported last month (see STM, Feb 12, p.8), student visa applications were suspended at four PTEs after INZ said the institutions were non-compliant in their obligations to international students. However, following the High Court review, an INZ statement said, “Immigration New Zealand has resumed the processing of student visa applications for all four PTEs where processing was suspended last month.”
The other schools affected were: National Institute of Studies in Auckland, Tauranga, Otahuhu and Christchurch; Aotearoa Tertiary Institute, Otahuhu; and New Zealand School of Business and Government, Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. INZ said it would review compliance progress later this year.
The specific charges against Edenz Colleges were that there were discrepancies in the tuition fee amounts provided in the “offer of place” documents and the amounts listed on the fee receipts and tax invoices held by Edenz, and that some full-time courses were less than the required number of hours per week. Justice Young said a detailed explanation of the discrepancies from Edenz seemed credible, while INZ’s assessment of course hours was based on outdated information.
“We are gobsmacked that a government organisation of considerable importance can assemble supposed facts to support their erroneous pre-judgement of us, and then neither discuss those matters with us, nor check them with us, nor countenance our responses before suspending visas,” said Cooper, who is considering claiming damages of NZ$400,000 (US$332,000) for lost earnings and legal fees.
Into secures major investment from USA equity firm
Into University Partnerships has announced a UK£66 million (US$105 million) equity investment from Leeds Equity Partners in return for a 25 per cent stake in the business. The investment will be used to build further public-private partnerships in higher education and fund further building projects.
Into Chairman, Andrew Colin, said Into’s goal was to transform higher education capacity and increase access for well-qualified students. “Our unique approach has a proven track record of providing universities with a secure mechanism to unlock access to private capital while retaining full control over their academic standards and brand.”
Into currently has partnerships with 16 universities worldwide. The company said it anticipated it would double in size within the next five years, and confirmed it would continue to develop its infrastructure portfolio.
Leeds Equity Partners is a New York-based equity firm that invests in education, training and information, and business services sectors. Jeffery T. Leeds, President and Co-Founder, said, “We look forward to helping them [Into] to continue to build an industry-leading, relationship-driven model that helps universities meet their increasingly complex challenges.”
New USA partnerships for Kings
Kings Pathways, the specialist university pathway division of Kings Colleges, has announced a series of new partnerships with institutions in the USA.
At Marymount College in Palos Verdes, California, Kings students will study a two-year pathway programme, after which they can complete years three and four of a degree at the college, or transfer to other universities in the state including UCLA and California State University.
After a one-year programme at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York State, successful students can continue at Canisius or transfer to State University of New York in Albany or Geneseo. The one-year programme at Pine Manor College, Boston, meanwhile, now leads to continuing study at the college or transfer to a range of six universities across the country.
In all of the pathway programmes, students are taught by the university faculty in classes with American students, but at the same time benefit from academic study skills, personal mentoring and university counselling from Kings Pathway staff based on campus. “Kings Pathways gives students the comfort of having a guaranteed progression, and handpicked progression options,” said Bill Colvin, Director of Kings Pathways, USA. “We ask students to think about the degree they want on their wall in four years and we build a path for the student to accomplish that goal.”
It was also announced that Kings had signed a new 10-year agreement to continue the partenership with Pine Manor, both for the pathway courses and the year-round English language college on campus.
Growth of non-EU students at UK universities slows
The growth of international students at higher education institutions (HEIs) in the UK slowed in 2011/12, with postgraduate numbers actually falling, according to data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
The overall number of students from outside the UK at HEIs rose by 1.6 per cent to 435,235 in 2011/12. Within this, students from other EU countries totalled 132,550, an increase of 1.9 per cent. Non-EU students increased by 1.5 per cent to 302,680, a growth rate considerably less than the 6.2 per cent recorded in 2010/11 and 11.7 per cent in 2009/10.
Asia accounted for 62 per cent of all non-EU students, but there were wide divergences in the patterns of enrolments. China continued to be the top source country and rose by 16.9 per cent in 2011/12. However, while India remained the second largest market, numbers fell by 23.5 per cent. Similarly, Pakistan recorded a decline of 13.4 per cent, suggesting that changes to the post-study work visa may have had an effect. The number of non-EU postgraduate students in 2011/12 declined by 2.2 per cent to 160,245 the first fall in 16 years.
Jo Beall, British Council Director of Education, said, “The actual reduction in postgraduate numbers is of real concern as international students make up the majority of numbers in many postgraduate courses and research teams in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. Attracting the brightest and most ambitious postgraduate and research students is critical is the UK is to maintain its quality reputation for research and innovation.”
Feud affects Chinese enrolments in Japan
A political dispute between China and Japan over the sovereignty of a chain of islands located between the two countries is having a damaging impact on Japan’s international education sector, with some language schools reporting drastic falls in enrolments.
The Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands have long been a source of tension, and the Japanese government’s purchase of the islands from their private owner last year led to widespread protests in China.
Hitoshi Iwamoto, Director of Fukuoka Foreign Language College, said that roughly a third of Chinese students that had enrolled to commence courses in October last year cancelled, while applications from China for April programmes were roughly 80 per cent lower than would usually be expected.
Japanese authorities were worried enough to extend the student visa application deadline for courses commencing from April 2013 by two months.
The latest data released by the Japanese government for student visas issued for October 2012 study actually showed an increase in Chinese students: 6,568 compared with 4,885 last year. However, Hiroko Yamamoto, Director of Kai Language School, explained that this was against the background of 2011’s unusually low figures caused by the earthquake and tsunami in March of that year.
The next set of data for visas issued for April 2013 courses is expected to show a clear decline. Every Japanese school that we canvassed confirmed that applications from China were down.
“Schools that mainly or only accept Chinese students are seeing reduced student numbers, putting them in a very difficult situation,” said Iwamoto. According to the Japan Student Services Organisation, China accounted for 67.7 per cent of international students in Japan in 2011.
However, the October 2012 student visa data did show substantial growth in Vietnamese students, increasing from 353 to 1,676. Sri Lanka, Nepal and Mongolia also recorded large rises.
Canada proposes changes to protect students
Canadian study permits could be limited to students attending institutions approved by provinces under plans unveiled by the Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney.
According to the proposed regulatory changes, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) would work with the provinces and territories to develop a framework to approve institutions permitted to host international students. Schools that are not designated would still be able to offer courses of six months or less to students on regular visitor visas.
Minister Kenney said the plans would ensure consistent standards. “These changes will help us to better protect international students and the reputation of Canada’s post-secondary education system by making sure that international students are coming to quality institutions that comply with basic standards of accountability.”
Another significant proposed change is that international students attending approved institutions would be able to work part-time off-campus without having to apply for a separate work permit.
A further proposal would ensure that the primary intent of students in Canada is to study. Currently, students only need to demonstrate intent to study to obtain a study permit, with no actual requirement for them to pursue studies. The proposals would give CIC the authority to request evidence from study permit holders to verify compliance with permit conditions. Students failing to fulfil obligations could be removed.
LAL opens Chinese summer school
LAL Language Centres has announced the opening of a new Chinese summer school near Beijing, in partnership with ELM Education.
The school will be held at the five-star Secret Garden resort in Chongli. Surrounded by valleys and mountains, students can take advantage of the location with outdoor challenges such as archery, rock climbing and bike trails. There are over 20 supervised activities at the centre and sports facilities including football, baseball and basketball.
Courses are available for up to 250 young learners aged between 11 and 17 years. Mandarin courses of one to four weeks are offered, with options for intensive and private tuition. Excursions to major sights such as the Great Wall of China are part of the package, while optional extras including outdoor photography and Chinese cooking are also offered.
Shaun Carver, Managing Director of ELM Education, said the aim was to provide a family-like atmosphere, with good humour and a positive outlook in a cooperative environment. He said the school’s objectives were, “Fun, friends and fulfilment for each and every student.”