This issue’s Special Report on accreditation is a timely one, given the news that a language school in Glasgow has recently closed down leaving students stranded and with no way of contacting the school for a refund (page 6). Being accredited may not prevent a language school closing down unexpectedly and there exist hundreds of truly excellent non-accredited schools but accreditation schemes usually require schools to have measures in place to deal more effectively with the aftermath. Luckily, in this instance, two other language schools in the city, both recognised by Accreditation UK, stepped in to provide language courses to affected students.
Our Special Report this month examines the inexorable movement towards linking accreditation with visa issuance, which has been adopted by many of the major language travel destinations worldwide (page 36). The lack of government regulation in the language travel industry has undoubtedly been detrimental to ensuring a destination’s reputation overseas, and increased synergy between governments and associations is largely welcomed by those involved. At the time of going to press, the UK government was expected to release details of an official rule change that will require all educational institutions, including language schools, to be accredited by a designated body before they can enrol student visa holders.
The French language teaching industry is also getting in on the act with the recent announcement of first language schools to be awarded the Label Qualité Français Langue Étrangère (page 7). French language school association, FLE, is also due to develop its own accreditation scheme for members and any industry-led attempts to raise professional standards should be applauded.
Extensive regulation can be a help and also a hindrance and we should remember that the majority of those working in the language travel industry do so out of a love for the job rather than financial gain and instances of bad practice are thankfully few and far between. Our Destination feature on Italy this month highlights some of the smaller operators in this beautiful country and emphasises the friendly, family atmosphere that pervades schools with a genuine interest in the well-being of their students (page 54). Overall, it is to be hoped that increased regulation in the industry will prevent the few bad operators from tarnishing the reputation of the whole industry.