Australia targets rogue agent and bogus schools
The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (Acpet) has announced its intention to implement a register of approved off-shore educational representatives. Education agents are a prime source of students for Australia’s lucrative education export sector, however, with the media publishing recent reports concerning unscrupulous agents and bogus colleges, tighter regulation is being called for.
Andrew Smith, Chief Executive of Acpet, said students had complained about misleading information given to them by education agents and he stated that the register he said it was not accreditation would be a “credible and trusted source of information” that students, and in turn Australian providers, could effectively utilise.
“This register will give them access to a list of people who have specified industry criteria so that they can be sure they are getting the best possible information,” he said.
The association, which is said to be working in collaboration with the federal government’s international education arm, Australian Education International (AEI), said that to register, agents must prove they are a member of a reputable agent association, and may even be asked to provide testimonials from partner colleges they already worked with. Student feedback may also be used to update the register in future.
Meanwhile, Tony Pollack, Chief Executive of IDP Education, which is reputed to place more students at Australian institutions than any other organisation, told The Australian newspaper that regulation shouldn’t stop with agents. He observed that what the sector really needed was “a national regulator with teeth”.
“Most educational institutions, organisations and companies in the Australian education sector badly want an effective regulatory regime in place that ensures unethical operators are permanently out of the picture,” he said.
In April, state and federal governments agreed to regulate the vocational education and training sector, which includes private colleges but this is yet to come to fruition and Pollack said that the government should act sooner rather than later if it wanted to safeguard the industry from further shady dealings. “These moves will solve the problem as long as the federal and state governments continue to work in cooperation and act quickly to finish the job.”
Kingswood Group buys residential school site
Grosvenor Hall in Ashford, Kent, in the UK has become the latest site to be bought by Kingswood Educational Activity Centres. The company has said the 50-acre site will undergo a multi-million pound development and reopen in March 2010, to become “the top educational activity centre in Europe”.
The new centre will feature 375 beds, 18 classrooms, a media centre and 30,000 square feet of sports facilities, including a water-sports lake with kayaking and raft-building activities.
UK government committee calls for blanket accreditation
An inquiry into bogus colleges in the UK has led to the government’s Home Affairs Committee calling for compulsory accreditation for all private colleges and English language schools. The move aims to improve the sponsorship system under PBS [points-based system] visa rules, which requires only those institutions enrolling visa nationals to seek accreditation.
After an inquiry that saw representations made by Nick Lewis of the Association of Colleges and Tony Millns of English UK, and saw government ministers for further education and immigration giving evidence, the committee, chaired by Keith Vaz MP, concluded, “While the new sponsorship system under the points-based immigration system should help to prevent bogus colleges, we consider that a more complete means of prevention requires the compulsory regulation of private further education colleges and English language schools by the state.”
The committee urged the government to “restrict use of the term ‘college’ in future to properly accredited institutions and instigate an inspection regime to enforce this”. It highlighted that this would also protect European (non-visa national) students from receiving sub-standard education at unregulated colleges, “which is highly damaging to [our] international reputation for education”.
Another recommendation as a result of the inquiry was that to encourage greater reporting of instances of bogus/unethical operations, enrolled students already in the UK (reporting concerns to the authorities) should not be allowed to remain in the event that their school is closed, but “should not be precluded from making successful immigration applications in the future”.
The committee noted concern about the credentials of accrediting body ASIC and highlighted that UKBA is undergoing a review of accrediting organisations. It was reported that of the 4,000 institutions on the now-defunct Register of Education Providers focusing on international students, only 1,594 institutions have so far been licensed by UKBA (and therefore are accredited), which suggests that over 2,000 institutions are not seeking accreditation currently. When giving evidence, Millns of English UK called it a “national scandal” that regulation of private sector education had not been a priority of government education departments previously.
New IH school in Mexico
IH Cuernavaca has become the sixth Mexican school to join the ranks of the International House World Organisation.
Known as the city of eternal spring Cuernavaca boasts an average year round temperature of 22 degrees the new campus is located in a traditional Mexican Hacienda style house in one of country’s most culturally rich regions.
“We will do our very best to make sure IH Cuernavaca becomes the very best Spanish school in Cuernavaca,” noted Ariel Lopez, Director of the IH chain of schools in Mexico. “Having the best programmes, the most committed staff and being supported by IH World, we are sure IH Cuernavaca will become the first choice for Spanish study abroad programmes,” he added.
School failures in Canada and Australia
The Canadian College of Business and English (CCBE) in Toronto, ON, has ceased trading owing to financial difficulty. Students, teachers and study abroad agencies were left shocked when the school closed its doors without any prior warning in July.
A local language school Upper Madison College has reportedly stepped in to offer affected students free language tuition, a decision that was supported by a number of agencies in the Toronto area. “Most of these students are long-term students, some had a contract with CCBE to study there full-time for close to a year,” said David Lee, a representative at the school and he added that it was imperative such an incident did not taint Toronto’s reputation for language training.
A press release from national language school association, Languages Canada, underlined that the institute was not an accredited member and it reaffirmed that before a school is granted membership status, it must meet a series of “stringent quality standards”. “Had the closed school been an accredited member of Languages Canada, the association would have been committed to minimising the damage caused by the closure,” said the association in a press statement. It has also recently appointed an independent ombudsman that will adjudicate any complaints about members.
Meanwhile, in Australia, Melbourne International College (MIC) had its education licence cancelled by education authorities, leaving 300 students in limbo. All international students in Australia are covered by a tuition assurance scheme.
Acpet’s Chief Executive, Andrew Smith, said that his association had contacted every affected student to offer them the chance to continue their studies with a member college, as MIC subscribed to Acpet’s tuition assurance scheme.
“Events like this are very rare and unfortunate occurences, and Acpet staff have done an excellent job in finding placements for students,” he said.
Numbers down, spending up in NZ
The latest figures to be released by Statistics New Zealand reveal that the number of English language students in New Zealand fell by 6.9 per cent in the year ending March 09, but actual length of stay per student was up from 10 weeks to 12 weeks, boosting the overall income earned in the sector.
Saudi Arabian students were singled out as making the biggest increase in contribution to NZ Inc., bringing in an extra NZ$13 million (US$8.6 million) into the country, while China spent the most overall, pushing Korea into second position.
Despite buoyant news in the ELT sector, however, income was down across the whole education sector, from NZ$1.46 billion (US$0.97 billion) to NZ$1.34 billion (US$0.89 million).
Navitas posts positive student growth
Navitas, the global education services provider, has posted a growth of above 20 per cent for a third consecutive year. There were a reported 14,306 full time students enrolled at a university programmes college or managed campus in the second semester of 2009, compared with 11,573 students in the previous corresponding period.
Rod Jones, Navitas Chief Executive Officer, attributed the 24 per cent growth to the quality of educational and support services both its Australian and international campuses provide. “Under our business model, we partner only with leading universities and ensure we meet the highest educational standards,” said Jones. “Our reputation for quality is driving demand from key markets and, in turn, increased student enrolments represent continued growth in revenue flow for the company.”
Established colleges such as Fraser International College (FIC) in Canada, Melbourne Institute of Business and Technology (MIBT) and South Australian Institute of Business and Technology (SAIBT) in Australia, Hertfordshire Institute of Business and Technology (HIBT) and London International College of Business and Technology (LIBT) in the UK, were star performers, all posting growth of above 25 per cent.
Jones also related that the launch of two new schools would help sustain future growth. “With two new colleges opening in the UK in September this year and the continued development of new markets and businesses, we expect to see continued solid growth across our portfolio into the future,” he 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.