Australian peak bodies release action plan
Education peak bodies and associations in Australia have issued a joint action plan for international education, calling for firm commitments and strong action from all political parties.
“International education in Australia is at a crucial turning point,” said the bodies in a joint communiqué, released during the lead-up to the general election and calling on the future government to “restore Australia’s educational competitiveness” and “embrace a proportionate regulation system”.
The statement said, “The time for reviews and studies has passed. Too many already clog the desks and in-boxes of industry decision makers, with good recommendations remaining unimplemented. It is now time for firm commitments and strong action from the federal government, opposition and all political parties.”
The action plan calls on parties to enhance Australia’s competitiveness by addressing the cost of visas, which it says are the most expensive in the world, and fully implementing the Asian Century White Paper proposals, including funding and a review of labour laws.
Enhanced and coordinated marketing of the education export industry is called for, including assistance for capacity building and an extension of the Export Market Development Grant to individual institutions to expand their marketing efforts overseas.
“The joint peak bodies believe regulation should be proportionate to provider risk and that low risk providers, whether public or private, should operate within a regulatory regime proportionate to risk,” the report said, calling for transparent criteria in risk assessment to be laid out and for streamlined visa processing for low-risk providers.
The communiqué was issued by: International Education Association of Australia, Council of Private Higher Education, Independent Schools Council of Australia, Australian Council for Private Education and Training (Acpet), English Australia and Tafe Directors Australia.
Acpet also criticised recent regulatory fee increases from the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) that it said could force many colleges out of business, describing the present situation as “the darkest days for Australia’s training sector”.
MLI expands with new junior centres
MLI International Schools, has announced two new centres in the UK for 2014, a year that marks the Ireland-based company’s 20th anniversary.
New summer centres based at Edinburgh Queen Margaret University and the University of Portsmouth will add to three existing UK schools, with the same packages offered.
Brendan Kelly, Marketing Director, said, “The last twenty years, and all of the work that has gone into them, may have flown by, but MLI shows no sign of slowing down as the company stands on the brink of a milestone that really is a testament to their commitment to the industry and of their aim to provide all of the students, group leaders and staff who play essential roles in the MLI experience with truly unforgettable summers.”
LSBF announces new partnerships
London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) has announced a partnership with the Northern Consortium UK (NCUK) to provide preparation programmes for degree study, as well as a new course with the London Academy of Trading (LAT).
Delivered at LSBF’s London campus, the pathway programme aims to provide students with the academic and English language skills required for university study. Developed alongside NCUK, which provides pathway programmes worldwide for degrees at its 11 members, the courses offer guaranteed progression to undergraduate and postgraduate courses, including at the University of Manchester, the University of Liverpool and the University of Leeds.
NCUK, which has centres worldwide providing preparation programmes for entry into its member institutions, offers two routes: the International Foundation Year, which provides access to year one of a degree; and the International Diploma, which bridges to year two of a degree.
Maurits van Rooijen, LSBF Rector and CEO, said “For years we have been working with leading academic partners in the UK and worldwide to expand access to first-class higher education to a global level. With NCUK and our network of agents, we aim to fulfil the demand for British education at the same time as we shape the careers of global professionals.”
The partnership forms part of NCUK’s expansion plans, which include opening 30 new centres worldwide over the next five years. NCUK Marketing Director Piera Gerrard said, “LSBF and NCUK bring together a unique mix of academic rigour and marketing reach that will allow international students to gain a UK education through a world-class portfolio of programmes.” LSBF will initially open a NCUK London study centre, with a view to future expansion at its Singapore and Toronto campuses.
Meanwhile, LSBF has added a new online Professional Financial Trading programme for international students with LAT to its portfolio. The programme is designed for young professionals wanting to start a career in trading areas such as foreign exchange, commodities and stocks. Offered through online or in-campus modules, the three-month course provides a comprehensive understanding of trading techniques. The first intake is from this month.
UK launches growth strategy for education exports
The UK government has released an industrial growth strategy for international education exports that targets a “realistic” 15-to-20 per cent growth in international students enrolled in higher education institutions over the next five years, as well as increases in other education sectors.
Issued by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), International Education: Global Growth and Prosperity said, “We believe it is realistic for numbers of international students in higher education to grow by 15-to-20 per cent over the next five years.” Such growth would equate to an additional 70,000-to-100,000 students, and BIS projects that 3.7 per cent annual growth would lead to tuition fee income rising from UK£3.9 billion (US$5.9 billion) in 2011/12 to UK£4.4 billion (US$6.7 billion) in 2020 (in 2011 prices).
BIS used data from Study Travel Magazine in its calculations on the global value of the ELT study abroad industry and the UK’s market share within it. Although no specific growth targets for ELT were stated, the strategy document said, “With the UK’s position as the ‘home of English’ and many people preferring to learn English from native speakers, the UK ELT sector is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities arising from growth in this global market.”
Overall, BIS estimated the value of education exports to the UK in 2011 at UK£17.5 billion (US$26.7), 75 per cent of which was derived from tuition and living expenses.
The strategy document is largely positive in its summary of the role of agents in the UK’s international education sector, especially in many key markets. “Agents offer a cost-effective approach to the challenge of recruiting simultaneously in a range of countries, and provide valuable local knowledge and routes for connecting with potential students.”
The British Council’s existing agent training scheme was endorsed by BIS, which said Education UK would publish a single list of trained agents on its website. Further regulation of the agent sector was deemed unnecessary and counterproductive, said BIS in the report.
In support of transnational education, English UK is planning to pilot an international accreditation scheme for English language teaching organisations in two countries: one in Europe and one in Central America. The government is also consulting on strengthening quality assurance of higher education delivered by UK institutions overseas.
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said the strategy came at a crucial time of international enrolments slowing down. “The challenge will be to make sure the UK’s student visa rules are properly understood internationally and that international students do not become caught in efforts to bear down on immigration.”
The government has identified eight priority countries and one region for increased engagement: China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Turkey, Mexico, Indonesia and the Gulf. An International Education Council (IEC) will be established to provide high-level oversight and support for implementation of the strategy.
Atlas expands into USA and moves Dublin school
Ireland-based Atlas Language School has moved into a new location in Dublin, and has also announced expansion into the USA with a new junior centre in Santa Barbara, California, from 2014.
The new Dublin base is in the landmark Portobello House building, overlooking the grand canal, and features 25 classrooms, a student café/restaurant, library, computer room and a student recreational area.
Director and Co-Founder of the school, Nico Dowling, said, “It has taken over a year of negotiations to secure Portobello House, so we are absolutely delighted to have finally moved into such a unique and beautiful building.”
He added, “We have been growing rapidly over the past number of years and we feel our new location will further enhance our standing in the Irish market and strengthen our position at the forefront of quality ELT providers.”
Meanwhile, with the opening of a third junior centre in Santa Barbara, Atlas Language School is also making a foray into the USA market. “Known as ‘The American Riviera’, our new destination is the ideal location for a summer study holiday,” said Dowling. The residential-only programme is located on the beach, ten minutes from the Spanish colonial downtown area. Trips to Los Angeles and San Francisco are included.
Record attendance at Alphe UK conference
the Alphe Uk 2013 workshop commenced the busy industry conference season with a record high attendance of both educators and agents.
Held at London’s Westminster Park Plaza Hotel from August 30, the event attracted 422 agents from 370 different agencies, compared with 418 agents from 358 agencies in 2012. Some 74 student markets were represented, an increase over 68 last year.
Educators were similarly in record attendance, with 276 institutions, compared with 262 last year. There was also an all-time high gathering of industry decision makers, with almost two-thirds of delegates eligible for the exclusive Directors’ Club drinks reception.
Satisfaction was high at the event. Houman Nikmanesh, CEO of Sol Schools International, said, “It’s always important for us to attend the Alphe UK workshop. It’s a great opportunity for us to meet the key decision makers for our existing partners and meet new and highly potential partners for the coming season at this opening event to the marketing season of the industry.”
Networking events included a drinks reception and the STM Star Awards gala dinner, preceded by the Directors’ Club. See next month’s STM for a full report on the Star Awards, including the list of winners.