|Acpet China officially launches
The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (Acpet) has officially established a permanent presence in China with the opening of an office in Chongqing. Acpet China will provide in-country support to Acpet members that are currently active or wish to become active in the country, and will also promote Australian education opportunities to Chinese students.
New South Wales (NSW) Premier, Barry O’Farrell, launched Acpet China at an official function attended by 30 member representatives, in-country partners and the media. “NSW is focused on welcoming a growing number of international students to the state,” said Premier O’Farrell in his address. “The NSW government is working in cooperation with the Australian government to make it easier for students to study in Australia. We welcome international students and value the contribution of private providers in NSW.”
“Acpet’s presence in Chongqing will assist us to establish high-level government, industry and provider relationships for our members,” said Acpet CEO, Claire Field. “It is also a step towards our mission of providing better support and services to Chinese students coming to Australia.”
During the presentation, statistics were presented that showed in 2011, Acpet members account for 47 per cent of Australia’s international tertiary students, a figure rising to 55 per cent in NSW.
At the ceremony, Acpet announced the appointment of Li Min as Acpet Executive Officer for China, and her responsibilities will include leading and coordinating Acpet activities in the country, maintaining high-level government contacts, and providing linkages to education for prospective students.
Chongqing was selected as the gateway city to western China. Importantly, it was the location of the 2002-2007 Australia-China Chongqing Vocational Education and Training Project, which developed vocational training and fostered knowledge of Australia’s VET system.
Work rights extended in Christchurch
New Zealand has extended work rights for English language students in Canterbury in a bid to boost the sector as it recovers from last year’s earthquake.
The 18-month trial came into effect on August 27, and students on an English language programme of at least 14 weeks in duration or a Level 4 Foundation Certificate of one academic year’s duration are now eligible to work 20 hours per week regardless of language level. Previous eligibility was restricted to students enrolled on a programme of at least six months and meeting a required level of English proficiency.
Rob McKay, Managing Director of English language school CCEL, a Christchurch school whose students are eligible for the new rights, said the announcement was excellent news for quality schools. “The English language industry here has been striving for automatic work rights for its student visa holders for many years. This is a very significant breakthrough.”
“The trial is quite narrow and restricted to the highest-ranked schools, but it is a great start and a very positive signal from the NZ government,” McKay continued. “Without a doubt it will lead to a growth in student numbers studying English in Christchurch, which in turn will flow into our pathway partners.”
Students will need to be enrolled at a quality education provider: Category One status under the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) External Evaluation Review (EER) quality assurance system; on a three-year audit cycle under the former NZQA quality assurance system; or a university. NZQA has said it will prioritise assessment of Canterbury English language providers that have not yet had an EER, and may consider re-assessment requests from sub-Category One schools.
Immigration New Zealand said the work rights may subsequently be rolled out nationwide. The Christchurch region suffered a 37 per cent drop in international student enrolments during 2011.
London Metropolitan University loses right to sponsor international students
London Metropolitan university has been stripped of its Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) status by the British government, leaving over 2,000 international students with 60 days to find another sponsor or face deportation.
An audit by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) lead to London Met’s HTS being suspended in July, and the government has now decided to fully revoke the license, meaning the university will no longer be allowed to teach or recruit non-EU students.
Immigration Minister Damian Green told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, “What we have found here is a serious systemic failure where it appears that the university doesn’t have the capacity to be a proper sponsor and to have confidence that the students coming have the right to be here in the first place.”
Green said that London Met had failed in three areas: more than a quarter of students sampled had no leave to remain in the UK; there was no evidence that a “significant proportion” of students had satisfactory levels of English; and in more than half of cases, the university had no record of whether students were attending lectures.
A UKBA spokesperson said that concerns were first raised six months ago, “but the latest audit revealed problems with 61 per cent of files randomly sampled”.
Around 2,700 non-EU students enrolled at London Met were given 60 days to find alternative courses or leave the country. Universities Minister, David Willetts, announced a task force to assist the students affected by the decision.
In a statement, London Metropolitan University said, “Our absolute priority is to our students, both current and prospective, and the university will meet all its obligations to them.”
The President of the National Union of Students, Liam Burns, said the UKBA decision was unfair on existing students. “This decision will create panic and potential heartbreak for students not just at London Met but also around the country.”
Quality English launches complementary brand
Quality English, the independent English language school brand, has announced the launch of a new, complementary brand for independent colleges that offer courses for international students in English.
Quality Education is for quality, independent colleges which teach vocational courses in English such as drama, cookery, hospitality, aviation and business. The Quality Education brand will cover countries where Quality English is already well-established, as well as other locations in non-English speaking countries.
Carolyn Blackmore, Chief Executive of Quality English, said the new brand would include educational establishments that have different titles in each country, such as Australian vocational colleges and Canadian career colleges. “That which they have in common with each other and with Quality English is an interest in attracting international students and teaching diverse courses in English.”
Explaining the move, Blackmore said, “We all operate in a very diverse and competitive industry where education is increasingly global and where demand is no longer just for English courses, but for courses in English, so Quality English sees this as a logical step to take.”
Key criteria for the selection of Quality Education brand licensees will be the same as for Quality English schools. “They must have a reputation for consistently providing high-quality courses and services. They have excellent feedback from both students and agents and they must of course be independent and locally managed,” said Blackmore.
Quality Education colleges will work with agents in the same way as Quality English schools. The colleges will have the chance to take part in the Quality English Missions (workshops), with 11 planned for 2013. Blackmore said this would provide a more diverse range of providers for agents attending the missions. Existing Quality English Authorised Agents will be free to recommend students to Quality Education colleges (subject to their conditions), but for the time being will need to apply to become designated Quality Education Authorised Agents.
“The new and complementary brand means that Quality English schools can reap the benefits of being part of a larger organisation without Quality English itself growing too large,” added Blackmore.
Record numbers of overseas students in Germany
The number of international students registered at universities in Germany totalled over 250,000 for the first time in 2011, according to the annual statistics released by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
The Wissenschaft weltoffen (Science Open to the World) report, published in cooperation with the HIS-Institute for Research on Higher Education, said the record number represented 11.4 per cent of all students in Germany. Europe accounted for well over half of the international students with 141,500, followed by Asia providing around a third (72,300). China was highlighted as Germany’s major growth market: some 22,828 Chinese students were enrolled at a German university in 2011.
UK announces full Tier 4 inspection cycle details
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has announced arrangements of the full cycle of educational oversight inspections for privately funded institutions that sponsor Tier 4 non-EU international students.
Sponsors will be subject to a full assessment every four years, with intermediate health check assessments with frequency depending on previous assessments and full assessments triggered early by changes in circumstances.
UKBA announced the initial changes to educational oversight for Tier 4 in July 2011. Any privately funded institution that wishes to sponsor non-EU students on courses of 12 months or longer needs to be inspected by one of the UKBA-designated oversight bodies: predominantly the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) for language schools and FE colleges and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for HE colleges.
All existing sponsors will have had their Year 0 inspection by the end of 2012, and will receive a Year 1 health check in 2013. The Year 2 health check will be skipped if the institution demonstrates the highest educational standards in Year 1. The following round of full assessments will take place in 2016.
Material changes in circumstances, such as a sudden increase in student numbers, major changes in course provision, and mergers and acquisitions, could trigger an early full assessment. If an institution is found to no longer meet acceptable standards, the confirmation of acceptance for study (cas) allocation will be frozen while the institution submits a remedy plan and applies for a new full assessment.
Record attendance at Alphe UK 2012
The Alphe UK 2012 workshop commenced the busy conference season with a record attendance figure of 948 delegates.
The three-day event, held at London’s Westminster Bridge Park Plaza Hotel, attracted 418 agents from 358 different agencies an increase over 299 in 2011 and saw 68 different student markets represented. Some 58 per cent of the agents were company directors. Educator figures also grew, with 328 representatives from 262 individual providers.
Satisfaction levels were high. Anne Ménard Moreau, Marketing Manager at English Language Company, Australia, said, “For me, it is an excellent opportunity to catch up with partners in locations we can’t always visit, and to meet potential partners. The quality and range of agents is very good.” Leanne Linacre, Director of Lila*, UK, said, “Before the conference even finished we were getting emails from agents we have met with potential bookings.”
Ashty Aladin, CEO of agency Lano Center for Educational Services, Iraq, said, “This is very good for a first-time attendee. It is well organised with a good mix of educators, and that is all you can ask for.” Vilem Jungmann, Director of London Study Guide, Czech Republic, was satisfied with the meetings. “Thirty minutes is exactly the right length, with no need to rush. I made new contacts and refreshed old ones.”
A drinks reception commenced proceedings on the first evening, while the STM Star Awards gala dinner was held on the Saturday night, preceded by the exclusive Directors Club drinks. See next month’s STM for a full awards report.