October 2006 issue

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UK immigration changes

Speedier immigration decisions, biometric identity cards for certain overseas nationals from 2008 and tighter exit controls are all part of new plans to improve the UK's immigration system. New Home Secretary, John Reid, outlined his vision to improve the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) earlier this year and stressed that a sponsorship system for student visa entry would come into force by April 2009.
Legitimate migrants who settle here will be expected to develop their English language skills from April next year and by 2014, all visitors in and out of the country will be counted. Reid said he intended the points-based visa system for skilled worker, student and youth mobility, which will see education institutions effectively sponsoring students to arrive in the UK (see Language Travel Magazine, May 2006, page 6), to come into effect in order to “boost Britain’s economy by bringing the right skills here from around the world and ensuring that this country is easy to visit legally”.

“The proposals we have published are the culmination of a thorough examination of the immigration system,” said Lin Homer, Director General of the IND. “We have consulted several thousand [staff] and have talked directly to more than 600 immigration officers.” There are a whole raft of other recommendations in the latest paper, including the introduction of fines for employers who employ illegal workers, a requirement that non-EEA nationals have unique, secure IDs to be able to travel to the UK after 2011, and that the asylum claim process be speeded up.

At Universities UK, President Drummond Bone welcomed the clarification on the points-based system (PBS). “It is in our interest to get this system right as international students constitute the largest user-group of our managed migration system,” he said. “Importantly, the new PBS will offer a more reliable way of monitoring enrolments and attendance.” He added, “The re-introduction of embarkation checks on departure will be a useful additional step.”

Reid, in response to poor public perception of immigration efficacy, underlined, “There is no overnight solution, but work has begun and we are already taking action to improve our services and restore public confidence.” Further information regarding changes to the visa situation can be found at www.ukvisas.gov.uk.

IDP sells 50 per cent stake

IDP Education Australia, the export promotion group owned by Australia's 38 universities, has agreed to sell a 50 per cent stake in its business to continue on its growth strategy outlined earlier this year (see Language Travel Magazine, March 2006, page 10).
Seek Limited, an Australian online employment and training specialist, has agreed to purchase the stake for “approximately AUS$36 million (US$27.4 million)”, according to an IDP press release. President of IDP, Denise Bradley, said, “IDP’s university shareholders want IDP to change and grow – preparing to meet increased competition in the global market for education services.”

Andrew Bassat, Joint Chief Executive of Seek, said, “We are very excited about this opportunity as the IDP business is highly complementary with our Seek Learning operation. The partnership between IDP and Seek will represent the marriage of the unrivalled industry expertise of IDP’s university shareholders with the marketing, sales, technology and business development expertise that have contributed to the success of Seek.”

IDP has also announced a new business strategy in China. Rather than operating all its own offices, “IDP will shift to a multi-layered approach and operate in China through a combination of wholly-owned offices, franchises and partnerships”, the company announced, in a move designed to “maximise opportunities in China while minimising risk”.

IDP’s representative in China, David Shi, will cease to hold this position and operate his office network under the new brand name of EduGlobal China. IDP will open new IDP-staffed offices in Beijing and Guangzhou and have an office in Shanghai via an agreement with Shanghai Education Association for International Exchange (SEAIE).

Franchise agreements already operate with agencies in other parts of the world, although IDP latterly focused its recruitment activities on Asia in a revised business plan in late 2004 (see Language Travel Magazine, March 2005, page 10). It also co-owns the Ielts testing system, along with the British Council and University of Cambridge Esol. This is used by an increasing number of universities worldwide to test language ability of international applicants. The popularity of the Ielts exam in China has exploded this summer, with test takers up by 70 per cent between May and July in Shanghai, compared with the previous year.

Malta introduces new visa for students

Malta is to issue a special visa for foreign students, following a series of meetings held between the government and the Federation of Language Teaching Associations of Malta (Feltom). This means that visas valid for up to one year can now be issued for the first time, instead of general visas valid for three months.

John Dimech, President of Feltom, explained that until now, visas had to be renewed every 30 days by students spending more than three months in the country. With the new system of visa issuance, the visa can be renewed for another year, or for the duration of a course, whichever is shorter.

“[The new ruling] will facilitate the process of visas and subsequently agents from non-EU countries will feel more confident in promoting Malta as a suitable EFL destination,” commented Dimech.

New owner for ISI Ireland

A new Irish owner has purchased International Study Institute (ISI) Ireland in Dublin from its Japanese owners. Brian Burns is leaving his position as Director of school association, MEI~Relsa, to run the school, where he previously worked for three-and-a-half years.

The school will continue to be called International Study Institute and Burns told Language Travel Magazine that he would maintain close links with ISI Global, based in Japan. “The school will be downsizing and my aim is to create a warm and inviting school environment, where both agents and students can expect a fast, friendly and efficient service,” he said.

EC ventures into South Africa

Growing language school chain, EC, has acquired Boston Language College in Cape Town, South Africa, to add to its collection of language schools in Malta and the UK.

The Cape Town school will be rebranded as EC Cape Town on 1 October and Chief Executive of the EC Group, Andrew Mangion (pictured, left, with John Provost of Boston Language College), said the acquisition marked the start of further expansion for the company “to cover global reach in the English language market”. EC has also announced a cruise language package and new programmes in China.

Study Group buy-out by Australian investment firm

The purchaser of Study Group has been revealed as Champ Private Equity in Australia, in partnership with Petersen Investments. Study Group was sold for UK£72 million (US$136 million) plus a working adjustment at closing; total UK£86 million (162.5 million). The group reported revenues of UK£95 million (US$180 million) for the year ending 30 September 2005.

Petersen Investments Director, Arvid Petersen, who was previously a director at Study Group, is set to become Chairperson of the group. He noted, “Study Group has more university relationships in key English speaking markets than any of its competitors, with over 90 university partners worldwide.”

Champ Private Equity Director, Ben Sebel, added, “Champ Private Equity intends to continue management’s successful growth strategy and is interested to pursue further partnership opportunities.” He said both investment groups “share a strong belief in, and commitment to, the future of the private education sector” and were confident about growth in the sector because of the appeal of university education overseas for many families in developing countries, where demand exceeds supply.

St Giles expands into Canada

ST Giles International, which has schools in the UK, USA and Brazil, has expanded into Canada by purchasing the Canadian Business English Institute (CBEI) in Vancouver, BC.

Lucy Heron, Group Marketing Manager for St Giles, said, “Many of our agents had expressed interest in Canada, and particularly Vancouver, as an exciting and fast-growing destination for language travel. It was therefore a market that we were keen to get into.”

CBEI has been in operation for over 15 years in central Vancouver and offers a tailored business English programme that Heron said St Giles was pleased to add to its portfolio. “We are sure agents and students alike will be impressed with the increased choice and flexibility that this move allows us to offer,” she said.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Education New
       Zealand Trust
English Australia

English Australia

Malta Tourism

InterGlobal Ltd.


Byron Bay English
       Language School
CHEC English
       Language Centre
ELSIS English
       Language School
      in Sydney
English Australia
GEOS Sydney
Global Village
       Sydney (Universal
       English College)
Monash University
Sydney Institute of
University of
University of
       Western Australia

Archer Education
Vancouver English

Mandarin House

Aspect (Australia,
       Canada, England,
       Ireland, Malta,
       New Zealand,
       Scotland, South
       Africa, Spain, USA)
Bell International
       (Malta, UK)
LAL Language and
       Leisure (England,
       Malta, South Africa,
Malvern House
       Language School
Oxford Intensive
       School of English
       (OISE) (Australia,
       England, France,
       Germany, Spain,
Queen Ethelburga's
St Giles Colleges
       (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group
       (Australia, Canada,
       England, France,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, New Zealand,
       South Africa,
       Spain, USA)

EICAR- Paris
       International Film
SILC - Séjours
       Linguistiques &
       Culturels (England,
       France, Spain)

Prolog- International
       House Berlin

Emerald Cultural
High Schools
       International (HSI)
       (England, Australia,
       Canada, Ireland,

ISI Language School

EC - English
       Language Centres
       (England, Malta,
       South Africa)
Malta Tourism
NSTS (Head Office)

Education New
       Zealand Trust

Language Link,
Liden & Denz
       Language Centre
Moscow Linguistic

inlingua Singapore


EF Language
       Colleges Ltd
       (Australia, Canada,
       China, Ecuador,
       England, France,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy,  Malta, New
       Zealand, Russia,
       Scotland, South
       Africa, Spain, USA)
       (Australia, Canada,
       England, France,
       Germany, Italy,
       Japan, New
       Zealand, Russia,
       Spain, Switzerland,

American Language
       Center (ALCC)
Hun School of
       Princeton, The
Kaplan Educational
       Centers (Canada,
       England, USA)
Program for
       American Language
       Studies (PALS)
University of
       California Riverside
University of West
Zoni Language