||EC opens new US school and purchases LSC
EC, the chain of English language centres, has announced a new centre in Los Angeles, relocation of its Boston school, and the acquisition of LSC Language Studies Canada.
Opening in January 2012, the Los Angeles school is situated on Wilshire Boulevard, just a short walk from Santa Monica Beach, and will offer 24 classrooms, a student lounge, a library and free Wi-Fi throughout the building. EC Los Angeles Director, Mardy Arenas, said, “I cannot think of a better location than Santa Monica. This destination is so full of the life and beauty that one would expect from a beach city in Southern California. A wealth of culture and entertainment is at your fingertips here, and I can’t wait to share this California dream with our students.” Meanwhile, EC Boston will double in size by relocating to the city centre-based Faneuil Hall Marketplace in January. The school will occupy three floors and offer 26 classrooms, a student lounge, a self-study room and 43 student computers.
With the acquisition, LSC’s three centres in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal will become EC schools. EC plans to invest in the schools’ facilities and to develop a wider range of academic programmes, including exam preparation courses and university pathway programmes. “We have put together a core team that will handle the integration of the Canadian schools into the EC group,” said Michael Xuereb, EC Chief Executive Officer. “Unlocking the growth potential in both LSC and Canada as a destination will be an incredibly exciting challenge for us, and one I know we will rise to successfully.”
LSC’s sale to EC impacts on its membership of Ialc, an association of independent schools. The 2012 Ialc workshop, for which LSC successfully bid 18 months ago, will go ahead on its planned dates and will now be hosted by Tamwood International College, Ialc’s other Toronto member. Ialc Executive Director, Jan Capper, said, “It’s obviously a shock, but we’re delighted that Tamwood have stepped in to help. They are young and dynamic, and with their energy and input we’re confident of staging a successful workshop.”
First Alto seminar held
The Association of Language Travel Organisations (Alto) has hosted its first Professional Development Seminar, with a speech delivered by Verne Harnish, founder of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation and author of ‘Mastering the Rockefeller Habits’.
The event, which took place at London’s Westminster Park Plaza Hotel after the Alphe UK 2011 conference, was attended by over 80 delegates. Entitled ‘Dominating Your Industry: Four Critical Decisions’, the seminar focused on key decisions that anchor an effective strategy for leading industry, and which revolve around Harnish’s one-page strategic planning document and other one-page tools.
Feedback showed that 87 per cent of attendees rated the speaker as either very good or excellent. “In spite of the early Monday start, I was particularly impressed with the speaker and organisation of the Alto day and hope this heralds the start of a bright new future for the association,” said Andrew Hutchinson, Director of Kings Colleges. A video and documents relating to the seminar will be available to members on the Alto website for a limited period.
European agency association established
The European Association of Quality Agencies (EAQA) has been established and held its inaugural meeting at the Alphe UK conference in September.
EAQA is an initiative to give representation to agencies in countries without an existing association and to provide a platform for quality standards, education on best practice, market intelligence, communication, and lobbying on such issues as visa regulation across national boundaries. The association is the result of interest from 24 agencies in 13 countries in adopting international quality standards, including the Felca Code of Practice.
“I am delighted to announce the establishment of EAQA. As several countries have no agency association in their markets, many agencies now have the opportunity to be part of an agency association with quality standards and various membership benefits. We are fully committed to the provision of support to members and the international education industry,” said Jozefina Krnacova, appointed Secretary of EAQA.
Knight review streamlines Australia’s student visas
The Australian government has accepted all 41 recommendations of the Knight Review into the student visa programme, which include all university applicants being treated as low-risk and the removal of language test requirements for English language students.
Under the measures, due to come into effect next year, all students of Bachelor degree level and above will be treated as low-risk Assessment Level 1, irrespective of origin. Additionally, post-study working rights of two years for Bachelors graduates and four years for PhD students will be granted. Other changes include a reduction of up to AUS$36,000 (US$36,720) in the amount of money that students from high-risk countries need to deposit in a government-sanctioned bank account before they can apply for student visas.
The vocational sector has raised some concerns that the benefits of the reforms favour university students. The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (Acpet) has called for working visas to match specific areas of skills shortage. However, Claire Field, Acpet CEO, has welcomed the decision to review the assessment level framework with a view to recognising lower risks from high quality private providers. “There are many outstanding private tertiary education institutions in Australia, recognising and treating them as low-risk will be an enormous benefit to them and their prospective students,” said Field.
Announcing acceptance of the Knight Review, which the government commissioned in December 2010, Senator Chris Evans, the Minister for Tertiary Education, said, “The reforms will assist in ensuring Australia remains an attractive study option and will offer practical support for international education providers that have been under pressure as a result of the high Australian dollar.”
Successful UK conference season
The busy September conference season in London attracted record numbers of attendees to both Alphe UK and StudyWorld.
Commencing proceedings, the Alphe UK 2011 conference, held at London’s Westminster Bridge Park Plaza Hotel on the weekend of September 2, drew representation from 61 different student markets, with 299 agencies attending the conference, compared with 288 in 2010. Educator figures, meanwhile, grew by 21 per cent, with attendance from 257 individual providers.
Tony Kim from iAE Edu Net, said, “I’ve been coming here for five or six years and it’s getting bigger and better every year. There is a very good mixture of schools. I’m always happy to see this event growing because there are always good quality people here.”
A few days later StudyWorld also boasted record-breaking figures, with 298 agencies and 231 educators. “Not only did we have almost 900 attendees at the event, but we had our biggest-ever number of exhibitors, which tells a lot about the business that we do here,” said Siobhan Baccas, StudyWorld organiser. The StudyWorld format was refreshed, with the formal dinner replaced by a short party for newcomers followed by a welcome reception. Four hours of seminars included a presentation by Jeremy Oppenheim of the UK Border Agency on visa regulations.
Australian registration fees cut
Amendments to Australia’s Education Services for Overseas Students (Esos) Act will reduce registration charges per international student from AUS$30 (US$31) to AUS$10 (US$10), leading to an anticipated AUS$8 billion (US$8.2 billion) reduction in overall registration fees paid by the international education sector.
Under the new legislation, the base annual registration charge will increase from AUS$366 (US$373) to AUS$1,300 (US$1,326), but per enrolment charges will reduce to AUS$10. Furthermore, students on courses of less than 26 weeks will be considered as 0.5 of an enrolment, while those on courses of less than 13 weeks will be counted as 0.25. Sue Blundell, Executive Director of English Australia, which had lobbied for changes to reflect the shorter courses delivered by its members, said, “This legislation to reduce the regulatory costs for international education providers, particularly Elicos providers who deliver short courses, is warmly welcomed by English Australia.”
However, new providers will be faced with an ‘entry-to-market’ charge of AUS$15,000 (US$15,300), spread over three years, which will replace the current initial registration charge, although providers deemed to be ‘low-risk’ may be exempted from all or part of the charge.
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