By Matthew Knott, News Editor of StudyTravel Magazine



Positive news coming out of Australia this week, where the English language sector recorded its highest ever number of international students last year, surpassing the previous record year of 2008 according to the latest data released by peak body English Australia.  

The new figure builds on the return to growth that the sector recorded in 2013, and reflects a number of factors as Executive Director Sue Blundell has regularly pointed out in StudyTravel Magazine: the return of the dollar to a more agreeable exchange rate, less favourable policies in competitor countries, English Australia and member initiatives, and the implementation of streamlined visa processing (SVP) in the higher education sector among them.

With this last aspect, Blundell sounds a warning that the growth has been unevenly weighted towards pathway providers and cautions that access to SVP needs to be opened up to quality private providers across all sectors to avoid a widening division within the international education industry.

Tuition protection schemes have also been in the news this week, with Ireland’s Ministry of Justice issuing a statement urging all language students coming to Ireland to ensure that their chosen college has a protection scheme in place – a stop-gap solution to the current regulation vacuum that exists in Ireland following the abandonment of the previous interim rules that were due to come into effect in January.

While the ministerial statement is welcome, a couple of key points were absent: Ireland’s association of accredited language schools MEI which operates a learner protection scheme; and the key role of agents in being able to guide students towards accredited and protected schools.

According to local media reports, the ministry is planning to make it mandatory for colleges accepting non-EU students to have protection in place. More to follow on that as the details emerge.

The role of agents was also highlighted in another story this week, where the latest student barometers in the private training establishment (PTE) and English language sectors have shown again that agents are ranked as the most important influence on students’ choice of where to study. The satisfaction with the service that students received from agents and their schools in New Zealand was pleasingly high.

And lastly, a school in the UK – International House Manchester – has been taking political matters into its own hands and has established a petition calling on the UK government to remove international students from migration data, an issue that that the international education sector and indeed many political figures from across the spectrum have long been calling for. 

Readers resident in the UK can sign the petition here.


Before I sign off, a reminder that a round-up of STM news is also available in a weekly audio format.

 

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