||Confusion in Canada over immigration consultant bill
New Canadian legislation designed to crack down on crooked immigration consultants has caused confusion over how the legislation affects education advisors. Bill C-35 came into force at the end of June and makes it an offence for anyone to provide advice regarding immigration matters for a fee, unless they are accredited by the newly created Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). Potential penalties can rise to CAN$100,000 (US$102,700) in fines or two years imprisonment.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) provided STM with a statement of what constitutes immigration advice for education advisors. “Directing someone to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website to find information about immigration programmes, application forms, and Canada’s immigration regulations would not be considered advice. Advising someone on which immigration stream to take including the provision of guidance regarding visa requirements how to complete an application form, or what information should be included with an application, would be considered advice.”
CIC further advised, “The new law will not affect the work of education agents who, for example, provide advice exclusively related to educational matters.” Therefore, until further announcements are made, advisors are advised to direct students to the CIC website for visa enquiries. Both CIC and ICCRC have also confirmed that it is not possible for non-Canadians to become accredited by ICCRC. At the time of writing, Languages Canada, the Canadian language school association, was awaiting a meeting with the Immigration Minister to seek further clarification.
TUI Education acquires language school in York, UK
English Language Centre (ELC) York in the UK has been acquired by the student travel business TUI Education, complementing its portfolio of English language schools, which includes EAC, Hampstead School of English and Manchester Academy of English. ELC York was founded in 1997 and is set within the city walls in the historic centre of York.
The school comprises three adjacent Grade II listed Georgian properties in York and has 18 classrooms, with a capacity of 180 students. Courses offered at the school include general English, Ielts for university entry and Celta teacher training. Previous owners Hugh and Judy MacDermot will continue working at the school as consultants. “This is an exciting time for the Education Division as ELC York offers the opportunity to grow in the popular English language teaching arena. This is a highly significant acquisition for us and we are delighted to be working with Judy, Hugh and their team,” said Ian Finlay, Managing Director of TUI Education.
ELC owner Hugh MacDermot added, “We are delighted that ELC York has been purchased by TUI Education as it will enable us to embed our expertise in global markets across the entire language portfolio whilst we take advantage of TUI Education’s own language travel expertise and financial backing. We are absolutely certain that the school will continue to develop and expand under the TUI Education umbrella.”
Value of UK English language sector more than previously thought
Research commissioned by the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and based on figures from STM’s global market report (see STM, November 2010, 46-50) has suggested that the English teaching industry earned almost UK£2 billion (US$3.1 billion) for the UK in 2008/09, an increase over previous government-sponsored estimates of the value of the sector.
The report, Estimating the Value to the UK of Education Exports, was written by London Economics and calculated total ELT education exports at UK£1,996.2 billion (US$3,153.9 billion). This was made up of UK£879.5m (US$1,418m) from tuition fees, and UK£1,116m (US$1,763m) of non-fee income such as accommodation, travel and entertainment over double the previous estimate.
The report estimates “large and increasing numbers of students in more recent years” and “differences in the duration of stay” as reasons for the increases. Tony Millns, Chief Executive of English UK, said, “This is a higher figure than we previously dared to use, and it underpins the vital importance of this sector to the UK’s balance of payments.”
The research excluded state sector colleges and universities that provide English language programmes, and also left out non-accredited language schools, meaning the overall value could be considerably higher.
Education New Zealand supports Christchurch
Education New Zealand (ENZ) is working on a number of initiatives to support schools in Christchurch as the city recovers from the February earthquake, including marketing and free registration for offshore events.
Additional marketing campaigns to reassure prospective students and parents that the country is still a safe place to study are currently being developed, while a dedicated Christchurch portal will be linked to the ENZ website to provide up-to-date facts and content from trusted sources. ENZ will be further developing its Specialist Agent website to provide sales tools and content, as well as making it easier for agents to access accurate information to address safety concerns that they or their students might have regarding studying in Christchurch.
Meanwhile, the association is also offering free registration to any Christchurch institutions that are looking to participate in offshore marketing events under the Promotional Activity Calendar for Education (Pace) programme. The offer will continue until June 2012. Additionally, several sessions at the New Zealand International Education Conference in August were scheduled to examine what has been learned from events in Christchurch and how to approach the recovery.
Nacac compromises over use of commission for student recruitment
The Board of Directors of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (Nacac) has decided not to ban the payment of commissions to agents for the recruitment of international students.
Although Nacac maintains its opposition to the commission practice, it said in a statement released at the end of July, “We also recognise that it is unreasonable to expect member institutions that already use this practice to eliminate the use of incentive compensation for agents immediately.”
Instead a commission will be appointed to consider alternatives, ethical standards and best practices for international recruitment, while any recommendations for changing the Statement of Principle of Good Practice (SPGP) will be deferred for two years.
“The discussion of this issue by Nacac members and other stakeholders is healthy, timely and important,” the statement also said. “We recognise that the issue is complex and not likely to be resolved easily in the short-term. We also recognise that the issue is viewed through different lenses by our secondary and post-secondary members, among institutions with varying viewpoints and institutional characteristics, and among administrative offices on post-secondary campuses.”
A public call for comments on the commission issue prompted over 300 submissions.
Soaring accreditation fees for UK colleges
Private higher education institutions in the UK have learned that the cost of accreditation with the newly appointed body will be around UK£20,000 (US$31,631), a huge increase over previous accreditation rates.
The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has recently extended its remit from the accreditation of public higher education institutions to additionally cover private HE institutions that wish to sponsor non-EU Tier 4 student visa applicants, and is now the only body that can do so. Fees of UK£17,000-£19,000 (US$26,800-30,020) for an independent college, in addition to an application fee and ongoing annual costs, were announced at a QAA accreditation conference in July. Previous accreditation costs were typically well under half this amount. Embedded colleges, which offer pre-sessional courses and are physically located on a university campus, will be facing fees of UK£59,000-£80,000 (US$93,220-$126,400) for the entire network of centres.
“We are very concerned for our members as, whilst we are committed to maintaining and improving the quality of the private sector and welcome a robust accreditation system, in these difficult times such fees will be prohibitive for many institutions,” said Elizabeth Terry, Manager of Study UK, which represents private further and higher education institutions. “We will be asking the QAA to stagger the fees,” Terry added.
At the time of writing, the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), had just announced accreditation fees for English language schools of UK£8,230-£12,070 (US$13,003-$19,070) plus an initial application fee.
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