||Student commencements down in Australia
Latest statistics released by Australian Education International show that the total number of international student commencements in Australia decreased by 7.4 per cent in July compared with the previous year, with the Elicos and vocational sectors particularly badly hit by the downturn.
The number of commencing students into the Elicos sector in Australia decreased by 23 per cent in July, while numbers in the vocational sector dropped by 8.6 per cent. Higher education, in contrast fared better with commencing students up by 5.6 per cent.
Sue Blundell from language school association English Australia said that schools in the country had been affected by the strong Australian dollar, a change in visa regulations for potential migrants at the beginning of the year and the high profile collapse of language school chain Geos last year. The statistics showed that Indian student commencements for the Elicos sector were particularly badly affected and down by 86 per cent on July last year.
Indian students were particularly affected by the change in immigration regulations, which meant that immigration pathways were largely closed to them, however student commencements for all the top 10 source countries for Elicos were down in July this year. Blundell said, “We have had several years of huge growth in student numbers in the Elicos sector so these figures represent a levelling off in the industry to more sustainable levels. Elicos student numbers are still above 2007 levels and Australia’s booming economy means that while the Australian dollar is high, students have more possibilities of finding work here while they are studying.”
Another factor that has affected student numbers in Australia this year is a change in the student visa regulations, which meant that students applying for a visa to study in more than one sector had to adhere to the visa requirements set out in the sector with the strictest level. Previously, students wanting to undertake an English language course followed by higher education could apply for their visa using the requirements for English language students rather than higher education students.
Australian education groups have been in talks with the Australian government to find ways to halt the decline in international student numbers and prevent the country missing out on AUS$7 billion (US$6.5) in revenue (see ETM news page 21). In a statement from the Ministry of Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans said, “Labor inherited a student programme which failed to adequately detect fraudulent applications and lacked necessary safeguards to ensure student visa holders were genuine and had sufficient financial support. This was one of the factors that led to an unsustainable explosion in student numbers. Other countries, including the UK, are now dealing with the same problem and are looking to follow Australia’s example by tightening immigration controls.”
Languages Canada partners with accreditation services provider
Canadian language school association, Languages Canada has appointed the Orion Assessment Services of Canada to provide accreditation services for the association’s accreditation scheme.
The auditing firm took over the accreditation function of Languages Canada in September this year. The association will retain ownership of the scheme and set standards and specifications for best practice among members, while Orion will undertake the role of independent evaluator. Languages Canada President, Calum MacKechnie, said, “Language training standards in Canada continue to evolve to more fully assume their true role: the protection of students. We are really looking forward to working with an experienced, competitive and truly independent Canadian auditing firm.”
Both will develop an Accreditation Scheme Advisory Board that will oversee the functioning of the accreditation services and advise on best practices.
Student safety initiative launched in Australia
A social media campaign aimed at communicating personal safety information to international students has been launched in Australia.
The ‘Think Before’ strategy uses an animated video clip, featuring a character called George, and text message delivered through You Tube, SMS and other video sharing sites to warn students about high-risk situations that they may find themselves in during their stay. The message is delivered in English as well as 12 other languages Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Nepalese, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese.
The campaign has been funded by a number of education bodies, state government agencies and the private sector. Campaign Organiser Larry Anderson, said, “Simply the campaign was to say ‘all right, we’re doing everything we can to ensure you’re safe, but at the same time you have to do something not to put yourself in a situation that might result in some sort of harm or injury or both.”
New campus for Cork English College in Ireland
Cork English College (CEC) in Ireland has announced it is set to open a new language centre in 2011.
Located in the city centre on the same street as their existing campus, the new building dates back to 1845 and was most recently occupied by a bank so many of the old features will be retained, explained Marketing Director, Marc Cullen. “We have also investigated the possibility of using renewable resources and all going to plan, the carbon footprint of the new school should be quite small,” he said.
Measuring 1,200 square metres in size, students will benefit from modern facilities including, cinema rooms, IT rooms, common rooms, an outside decking area and over 20 classrooms. The school has also just been appointed a Cambridge Examination Testing centre.
The refurbishment project is ongoing and is due for completion in April/May 2011, said Cullen.
Ilac buys out Intrax Canada’s ESL school
The International Language Academy of Canada (Ilac) has acquired the Vancouver-based Intrax Canada’s ESL school and will provide English language programmes for students undertaking cultural exchange programmes in Canada.
Jonathan Kolber, Executive Director and Principal at Ilac, said, “We believe the purchase of Intrax Canada’s well-respected Vancouver ESL school will make Ilac one of the largest and best located language schools in Vancouver. We’re also excited to work with Intrax’s various cultural exchange programmes.”
Intrax Canada is a subsidiary of Intrax Cultural Exchange in the USA and provides cultural exchange programmes such as professional internships, work experience and tourism, volunteer programmes and study abroad to students from all over the world. The purchase comes at the same time as Intrax Canada’s plans to expand its work and internship-based programmes throughout Canada, building on 30 years of operation in the USA.
Paul Bydalek of Intrax Canada, said, “Demand from abroad for professional experiences in Canada is significant and we look forward to expanding our offerings to meet these needs.”
Open Hearts International College to buy Geos North America
A letter of intent to buy the 12 Geos schools making up Geos North America has been signed between Open Hearts International College and Geos NY Corporation.
Geos NY Corporation is made up of six language schools in the USA and six language schools in Canada and has been looking for a buyer since the previous owners went into administration earlier this year (see LTM July 2010, page 6). Open Hearts International College is based in Miami, FL and has been in operation for 20 years and is member of US language schools association AAIEP.
“Upon the completion of the sale, Geos North American schools will retain all staff and the company will continue to offer the highest level of customer service to both students and partners, local and international,” stated a press release issued by Uri Carnat, North American Regional Director for Geos. “The schools will also retain the Geos name as well as relationships and commitments to all agents and vendors.”
New ELS Centre in Fort Smith
ELS Language Centers has opened a new centre at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith in Fort Smith, AR in the USA.
New Director of the school, Simon Smith, said that more than 40 students had already been admitted to ELS Fort Smith, which opened in mid August. “They can live and study among American students, gain valuable experience of American university life and learn to feel very confident and comfortable before even beginning their undergraduate or postgraduate studies. ELS Language Centers is very pleased to join the University of Arkansas Fort Smith community and contribute to the international diversity of the region.” Smith formerly worked at the University of California, Los Angeles American Language Center and has also directed three US language schools in California.
The centre becomes part of a network of more than 50 ELS centres throughout the USA which have, in turn, helped over one million students suceed academically over the past 50 years.
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