May 2005 issue

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IEAI in Ireland to rival MEI~Relsa

A new association has been established in Ireland to represent the interests of the country's English language teaching industry. The International Education Association of Ireland (IEAI) has been formed to embrace all Acels-recognised schools and undertake marketing and promotional work on their behalf. Currently there are 21 members of IEAI and, according to Greg Rosenstock of Bluefeather School in Dublin, many more schools are expected to join the association, with those not currently affiliated with the Irish industry's other marketing body, MEI~Relsa, being the first to be contacted.

"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.

New websites launched in the UK and NZ

English UK has launched a new website, which features a searchable database of courses from across its 330 members and promises a separate section for agents in the future. The website, www.englishuk.com, also has information for students about living in the UK and details about English UK's services for members.

"For the first time, the new site contains details of both privately-owned schools as well as state-sector centres offering English language courses in the UK," said Ulrike Kadritzke, Marketing and Communications Manager at English UK. "The site is designed as [the] first port-of-call for students and agents as well as the English language training industry."

The web address will be appearing on all marketing material produced by English UK and an agent newsletter is due to be launched this year.

In New Zealand, an established website has been overhauled and relaunched as www.newzealandeducated.com, replacing the previous mynzed.com website. The site offers a comprehensive search facility, photo gallery, student profiles and video-style interviews. "It is a fantastic tool that lifts New Zealand to the forefront in showcasing itself online to prospective students," said Robert Stevens of Education New Zealand. "In the dynamic and competitive world of international education, we have to play every possible card to get on to students' radar. This revamped site... provides more information, more features and more value to users."

Funding for primary-level languages in UK

The UK government has followed up on its promise to allow all students from the age of seven upwards the chance to study a foreign language while at school, with the announcement of a UK£115 million (US$221 million) package to put primary-level language learning on the map by 2010.

There had been concern among groups in the UK that the government's decision to allow pupils to drop a language at the age of 14 would lead to a brain drain away from languages. But the UK government has promised to encourage better language learning at a younger age, which should fuel wider interest in the subject at an older age. Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly, said, "This [investment] is crucial if more young people are to continue studying languages at secondary school level and beyond."

Aside from recruiting more language teachers, the government will also develop teacher exchange programmes and a "Languages Ladder" national recognition scheme for students' achievements.

Global Village

expands its group

Language school chain, Global Village (GV), which left its marketing alliance with Shane schools last year (see Language Travel Magazine, May 2004, page 7), has acquired another school to add to its network. The Sunshine Coast English College, established in Noosa Heads, Queensland, Australia, in 1995, has now been rebranded as GV Noosa.

"Our new Noosa campus is a wonderful addition to the product mix," said GV Marketing Director, Ian Pratt. "With three schools now operating on the East Coast of Australia, we can offer agents an attractive range of study options."

GV Noosa is about 90 minutes from Brisbane. Founder, Helen Thomas, remains a shareholder. Other GV schools are in Canada and Hawaii.

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