Student life assessed in NZ
Three-quarters of international students (72 per cent) are satisfied with life in New Zealand, but they have a clear desire to mix more readily and easily with native New Zealanders. Teaching quality is rated the best in the English language teaching/private sector and two-thirds of students are planning on permanent residence in the country. These are some of the results revealed by the Ministry of Education’s survey into the experiences of international students in the country.
A third of the 2,671 students surveyed for the 2007 survey said they found making friends difficult and 30 per cent indicated they believed Kiwis were not interested in having international friends. Seventy-five per cent said they had experienced some discrimination from native New Zealanders and only 33 per cent of students believed there were opportunities for other students to learn about their culture. Sixty-one per cent wanted more native friends.
Education Minister, Chris Carter, said the survey (published this year) provided valuable feedback but more work was needed. The survey encompassed tertiary students, English language students and those at private training establishments (PTEs); secondary schools; and Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs).
Encouragingly for the English language teaching sector, those students within this sector (also including any private establishment) were more likely to assess their course content and teacher quality as excellent than any other group. Students in general were more likely to be happy with their progress than in a similar 2003 survey, and notably so within the private training/English language sector.
Interestingly, only 64 per cent of students signalled that New Zealand was their first choice of study destination. Australia, the UK or USA had been higher up the list for the other 36 per cent. Fifty-three per cent of students used an agent, down from 61 per cent in 2003.
Chinese students constituted 42 per cent of respondents and were the least likely to have native friends and least likely to be satisfied with aspects of accommodation and social support. Progress in studies, native friends and student support was all crucial to satisfaction levels.
Overall, 74 per cent of students knew of their entitlement to work; 35 per cent were doing so; 47 per cent said this was to pay for living and tuition costs. And 35 per cent of respondents had family members in New Zealand. A high 61 per cent intended to apply for permanent residence, including a high proportion of Chinese.
Australia riding wave of popularity for ELT
Australia’s popularity as a destination for English language study is at an all-time high, according to the latest statistics from English Australia, which identify a 12 per cent increase in students in 2007.
Contributing AUS$1.5 billion (US$1.4 billion) to the economy, 137,019 students studied English in Australia last year, with the majority coming from Asia (78 per cent). Most typical nationalities among schools’ intake were Korean and Chinese, followed by Japanese, Indian, Brazilian and Thai.
Three of the top 10 source countries actually posted a decline in numbers year on year, however, including Japan, Switzerland and Taiwan. Meanwhile, China experienced the largest absolute increase in enrolment numbers, while India is also a significant new market, up from eighth to fourth position in an overall league table of nationalities studying English in the country.
Sue Blundell, Executive Director at English Australia, said that the total student population remained diverse and she pointed to the valuable role played by English language schools in the country. “Effectively, the English language sector straddles both tourism and formal education contributing more students to further study in Australia and also to future tourism,” she said. “As well as being an increasingly important part of our service sector exports, the experience we provide also creates future ‘ambassadors’ for Australia.”
Irish to promote education internationally
The Irish government has signalled its intention to create a government-backed education body that will promote all aspects of education in Ireland to an international audience. Education Ireland, which will bring together accreditation operation Acels and the International Education Board of Ireland (IEBI) which focuses on tertiary learning opportunities is expected to launch next year.
According to Ireland’s Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keeffe, “The new body will be responsible for promoting the development of Ireland as a centre of excellence for international education.” Adrian Cummins at English language schools’ association, MEI~Relsa, said that as well as international marketing, a quality mark for schools and a code of conduct for the pastoral care of students were in the pipeline under Education Ireland’s remit.
Meanwhile, MEI~Relsa is broadening its membership base by inviting providers in Northern Ireland (part of the UK) to apply for membership. Cummins told Language Travel Magazine that the decision was taken to move towards marketing the whole of Ireland as an “all-island EFL destination”.
“The peace process in Northern Ireland was built around inclusion. MEI~Relsa is doing its piece to include our sector colleagues in the North,” he said, adding, “Agents will have a [greater] choice of regional locations.”
New school in South Africa
A new English language school in Cape Town, South Africa, opened in September, offering a unique product of English and cultural integration, according to Aaliya Bulbulia, Director of Studies at the new venture.
Kurus English will offer teacher-guided language excursions three times a week in addition to classroom-based lessons. “Our goal is to combine learning English with building meaningful awareness of cultural diversity,” said Bulbulia, who was previously Director of Studies at Cape Studies.
The school was set up by Johannes Kraus, who was himself an English language student in Cape Town. He said that while he was very satisfied with the teaching he received, there was no link between the teaching and Africa.
He has teamed up with Coffee Beans Routes (Language Excursions) to provide the regular trips for students that embrace the local community. For example, students may attend a Teba Xhosa cooking session as part of a food & cuisine module. Or, as part of a module on media & expression, they can visit TV newsrooms and radio stations, and have the chance to interview a radio presenter.
“Our concept is to use authentic texts about South Africa and Africa,” commented Kraus, “and to offer the students real-life context; a holistic cultural experience.”
English UK makes headway in Russia
Following a difficult year for UK language schools working in Russia when new biometric testing requirements but a lack of biometric testing units across Russia meant a freefall in visa applicants (see LTM, May 2008, page 7) there is good news on the horizon.
English UK has worked with the UK Border Agency to secure two new visa application centres next year with a possible third also to open. Novosibirsk and Rostov on Don will host visa application centres that can undertake the biometric testing required for all visa applicants. This is in addition to the current visa centres in Moscow, St Petersburg or Ekaterinburg.
Tony Millns, Chief Executive of English UK, said, “Evidence from English UK members was very helpful to UKBA in supporting the business case for this. Obviously it will help reduce travel time [for many] so will make UK visas cheaper and easier for Russians to obtain.”
This year, applicants outside of the three major cities had to make costly travel plans to attend an interview in person at a visa centre and have their photo taken and fingerprints scanned.
Saudis can access legal aid overseas
The Saudi Arabian government has announced that it will provide assistance to any of its citizens overseas should they require legal counsel. The decision comes as many Saudi citizens continue to benefit from the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, which pays for certain undergraduate programmes overseas and preliminary English language tuition if required. This year, 17,628 scholarships have been issued for students going to the USA and Asian countries, in the main.
Al Madinah newspaper reported that from now on, measures will be put in place so that Saudi diplomatic missions appoint Saudi lawyers to defend citizens on any charges brought and pay bail conditions, if they cannot meet legal costs themselves.
Bell International’s new teacher focus
Bell International, based in the UK, is launching a new Teacher Campus next year as a centre for professional development courses for English language teachers worldwide.
Participants on the professional programmes will live on-site at Homerton College at Cambridge University and be able to attend conference-style workshops as well as standard lessons on language and methodology. Bruce Milne, Product Development Manager at Bell, said that guest speakers would also deliver some of the afternoon sessions.
The aim is to create a campus of non-native English teachers from around the world. Milne commented, “A single campus location will create a lot of synergy, give lots of opportunity for professional exchange and the chance to forge international friendships.” He added, “The conference-style sessions are an exciting new departture and will give teachers the chance to dip their toes in new areas they will not have considered before.”
For English teachers living within the European Union, funding is available to attend such courses under the Comenius and Grundtvig schemes. Language travel agencies may be able to help applicants apply for such grants ahead of enrolment on a course.
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