By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

As always there are plenty of interesting stories and events this week across our online news coverage.

At the beginning of this week, I reported from the British Council’s ELTon awards ceremony, which celebrated innovation and excellence in the ELT industry worldwide.

One of the stand-out winners for me was a scheme in Ilfracombe in the West of England to help international language students become integrated into the local community. While many language schools will hope that their communities will openly welcome international students, the PALS (Promoting Acceptance of Language Students) initiative operated by provider Country Cousins actively goes a step further by working with the local youth service and enlisting local teenagers to work with students, benefitting both the visitors and the hosts.

Elsewhere, there were worthy wins for ELT teacher materials that highlight the issues the dyslexic language learners face and a campaign to raise awareness of mobility disability through ELT. Late last year, we interviewed agents about catering for students with a disability, so these product developments will no doubt be pleasing for them and others looking to accommodate all needs.

Over in Australia, the government has announced that Streamlined Visa Processing (SVP) will be extended to providers offering courses at advanced diploma level. SVP was first introduced to the university sector and allows all applications to be treated as the lowest immigration risk, regardless of the student’s nationality, providing clear benefits for both eligible institutions and international students.

There have been complaints, most vociferously from the VET sector, that this created an uneven playing field, with arguments that private colleges could be equally “low risk”. The extension of SVP to diploma level will therefore be seen as a fillip for VET providers and a further boost to Australia’s international export industry, which has been on a positive recovery curve for a few months now.

However, Claire Field, CEO of Acpet, has warned that there are still many high-quality providers excluded from SVP because they don’t offer advanced level diploma courses, and many state-funded Tafe colleges would make a similar argument.

Indeed in a story last year, English Australia Chief Executive, Sue Blundell, warned of creating a divided industry of “haves” and “have nots” through SVP. The government would be wise to extend SVP to all providers it considers to be “low risk”, regardless of ownership, sector and teaching level.

To finish, we have a very practical ‘View from the desk of...’ this week, with a registered Canadian immigration consultant providing clear guidance on exactly what advice an agent can or cannot give to international students regarding Canada.

Print This Page Close Window Archive