Gaela stands behind South Africa's ELT industry

16 July, 2015


The Global Alliance of Education and Language Associations (Gaela) has issued a communiqué in support of South Africa’s ELT industry, urging more effective communication between government and sector stakeholders in light of the damage being caused by recently introduced visa measures.



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“Gaela supports the call from Education South Africa (EduSA) [the peak organisation representing English language schools and a member of Gaela] for the South African Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Higher Education to sit down with them and develop a coherent approach to ensuring the sector is globally competitive in being able to attract international students for language learning,” said the alliance in its statement.  

Changes to immigration rules implemented during 2014 have led to confusion around the status of ELT study, with some South African embassies considering that English language study is not appropriate for a study visa.

In an interview with StudyTravel Magazine earlier this year, Johannes Kraus, Chair of EduSA, said that the impact of the visa situation was becoming apparent in recruitment this year. In 2015 Q1, EduSA members recorded a 24 per cent decline in the number of students, compared with the same period last year.

Previously, Shaun Fitzhenry, the former Chair and current Vice-Chair of EduSA, warned that study travel agencies that had spent a lot of money marketing South Africa as an EFL destination could think twice about doing so again in the future because of the new regulations and the confusion caused.

In the communiqué, Gaela referred to common misunderstandings of the language travel sector by governments.

“Gaela is a strong advocate for the importance and value of study abroad for the purposes of language learning and cultural understanding. The language teaching sector of education is frequently neglected in the development of quality assurance and visa policy because language schools do not teach domestic students and do not issue formal qualifications. This does not mean that the sector is any less important or credible than the traditional sectors of school education, vocational education or higher education.”

In StudyTravel Magazine’s most recent Global Market Report article on the ELT industry, the value of the ELT study abroad industry worldwide was estimated at some US$11.7 billion in 2013. South Africa had a 1.2 per cent share of students and one per cent share of student weeks, generating estimated revenue of US$70.2 million.

“Gaela is also a strong advocate for visa regimes that are effective in ensuring border integrity, however would argue that current South African visa policy is unnecessarily damaging a valuable sector,” said the alliance.

“Gaela urges the South African Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Higher Education to open up a dialogue with Education South Africa on the critical areas of industry regulation and access to study visas.”

Gaela issued a link to a recent article published in South Africa, detailing the impact that the visa regulations are having on the industry.


Matthew Knott
News Editor

 

 

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