EnglishUSA conference grows larger

03 February, 2014

The sixth annual Professional Development Conference (PDC) of EnglishUSA, held last week in San Francisco, was the largest to date for the association of intensive English programmes. Meanwhile, the number of long-term students on F-1 and M-1 visas in the USA slightly declined in the last quarter, according to the latest government data.

Photo: The 6th EnglishUSA Professional Development Conference was held in San Francisco

The conference attracted 175 attendees, including a 44 per cent increase in members, for two days of presentations covering topics including administrative and faculty staffing, curriculum and programming, government regulation and compliance, accreditation, placement and assessment challenges and student services management.

President of EnglishUSA, William Dantona, said, “All of us, together, make for a conference dedicated to the advancement of Intensive English programming here in the USA – a truly unique event. It is our every hope that this event will support the standards of our field and the quality of and access to our programmes.”

This year was the first time that the event, which began as a small workshop in 2009, has been designated as a conference, due to the increased depth and breadth of the sessions available.

To accommodate the growth, the conference was held at a new venue in San Francisco, the Fort Mason Center, a National Historic Landmark on the waterfront near Fisherman’s Wharf, offering views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The EnglishUSA Outreach team, Caroline O’Neal and Donna Myers, who oversaw the planning and preparation, were thrilled by the turnout and positive response to the conference. “The growth of the PDC reflects not only the growing size of EnglishUSA but also its increasing role as the recognised voice for Intensive English Programs,” said O’Neill.

“Of course, bigger is relative,” she continued, “We’re still small compared to Nafsa or Tesol, but that’s what people really like about the PDC: it’s all about IEPs.”

Meanwhile, EnglishUSA recently unveiled a refreshed website www.englishusa.org, which features expanded capabilities allowing searches for specific programmes and services, and also includes a randomly displaying featured programme and a scrolling view of Associate Member logos.

In separate news, the Department of Homeland Security has released quarterly data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) showing a slight drop in the number of long-term students on J-1 and M-1 visas. The number of active students in the two visas classes combined totalled 991,957 in October 2013, a fall of 2.6 per cent. There was an identical percentage decline in the number of active participants in the J-1 Exchange programme, resulting in a decline to 179,253 in October.

Asia was clearly the predominant source continent, providing 740,520 students, with China alone accounting for 287,260. In terms of level of study, 333,664 international students were pursuing Bachelor degrees, with 257,020 students on Master’s programmes, 131,262 were at doctorate level study and 90,476 were in long-term language programmes.

The full report on SEVP data is available here.

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