"The idea [to form IEAI] came about as a result of an Acels-hosted meeting of recognised schools [not in MEI~Relsa] to introduce [to them] the creation of Education Ireland," explained Rosenstock, referring to the new education body looking after the interests of the entire international education industry in Ireland (see Language Travel Magazine, March 2005, page 6). "It was on [Acels'] recommendation to form a new group of Acels-recognised schools that the IEAI was established and that the non-affiliated schools of Ireland were invited to become members," said Rosenstock.
All schools recognised by Acels, the Advisory Council for English Language Schools, are invited to join IEAI, as well as MEI~Relsa (itself a merger of a group called Marketing English in Ireland and the Recognised English Language Schools Association). Rosenstock said the new association would be "democratic, open, non-exclusive and transparent" and the only key requirement for members would be that their school is recognised and has therefore gone through a quality assessment.
"Although MEI~Relsa will be a competing association, we would like to think that the IEAI and MEI~Relsa will find common ground to work together in the knowledge that our true competitors are in the UK and in the major English-speaking countries overseas," added Rosenstock. "Acels and Failte Ireland (the tourism body) may prefer the simplicity of having to work with one ELT association, however, the variety and competition provided by having two major ELT associations in the country will be better for everybody concerned."
MEI~Relsa was contacted but declined to comment.
Irish amend work rule
Ireland's Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin, has announced a compromise on the issue of part-time work rights for students in Ireland from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). Having previously announced that work rights for non-EEA students would be revoked in April, students studying at Acels-approved institutions for more than one year will now be able to continue to work part-time.
All institutions have been invited to apply to be on a list of quality-assured schools and English language teaching (ELT) schools must be Acels-recognised and offer year-long courses leading to a recognised qualification to be included. Hanafin commented, "This applications process will ensure that the providers of quality-assured education and training programmes will benefit from the implementation of the new access to work arrangements. These are ultimately aimed at protecting overseas students and the reputation of Irish education by ensuring [work rights are] provided on a transparent, fair and reasonable basis."
There had been outrage among ELT providers when the original ruling was announced (see Language Travel Magazine, March 2005, page 6). "MEI~Relsa wishes to specifically thank the Department of Education and Science," commented Tom Doyle of MEI~Relsa. "It [acted] swiftly in light of the threat non-recognition [of work rights] could place on the sector overall." He estimated 120 jobs and up to e100 million (US$133 million) could otherwise have been lost in possible student revenue.
New Spanish school association
Spain is another country to be sprouting new associations within its language teaching industry. La Asociación Nacional de Escuelas de Español para Extranjeros (Aele) has been launched in Spain by four language schools, claiming to be the first national association of its kind. Fedele, which has school members from across Spain, is in fact, as Antonio Anadon of Enforex points out, a federation of regional language school associations in the country.
Anadon explained that until Aele was formed, language schools were unable to join Fedele without joining their regional association. So in cases of regions without school associations, such as Galicia and Murcia, membership of Fedele was unattainable. "We wanted to have schools from across Spain able to be represented and be a member of a quality and professional association," he said. "On top of that, any school that does not agree with the [ethos] of their local association can find their voice in the national association, Aele."
Aele is also a member of the Fedele federation, which hosts an agent workshop each year. Current Aele members are Enforex in Marbella, Don Quijote in Tenerife, Mester Spanish Language Courses in Salamanca, Centro Internacional de Lengua Española (Cile) in Malaga and the newest member is Lacunza IH in Madrid. Anadon told Language Travel Magazine that he expected membership to double by the end of the year. "We are looking to be a very representative association with quality controls of our members," he said, "and acting as a good support for all students and agents."
The association's quality standards stipulate, among other rules, that all members must have a maximum class size of 10 students; have been in operation for at least two years; and have teaching staff educated to university-level. According to Anadon, Aele will begin promoting itself to students and agents this year via professional magazines, workshops and the Internet.
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