The Australian reported that ELICOS providers are in the dark regarding which regulatory body they report to after the federal government rearranged the framework two months ago. English colleges were expected to fall under the vocational training regulator, Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), but a surprise decision placed the responsibility for any college with an "entry arrangement with a high education provider" under the higher education regulator, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA).
Many colleges question whether the "entry arrangement" refers to institutions with access to the SVP arrangements (universities) or any higher education provider. For more information, please see Issue 14 of the IEU.
In related English language news, The Australian reported that universities have been urged to get serious about English proficiency as they attempt to convince the national regulator and employers that they are producing graduates with the necessary communication skills for employment.
Dr Sophie Arkoudis, from the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne, said the focus on English test scores will widen to determine how students, both international and domestic, develop communication skills as they learn the content of their discipline.
Dr Arkoudis has authored a book tackling the issue of English proficiency. The first of its kind, the book looks at English proficiency in terms of entry requirements and development throughout study to graduation.
Professor Simon Marginson, who wrote the foreword to the book, said "The plain fact is that higher education institutions have been unable to make English language proficiency a priority... there is little co-operation between the specialist language teachers and subject teachers. There is even more variation in the integration of English language proficiency in assessment, where practices are so inconsistent as to be counterproductive and unjust."
Student visa issues continue to proliferate in the UK from the fall-out after a university was banned from recruiting non-EU students. Times Higher Education reported that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) had revoked London Metropolitan University’s licence to sponsor non-EU students. The decision came after an UKBA audit found the university did not meet the standards required for the licence.
In an interview, Immigration Minister Damien Green said "London Metropolitan University [was] very seriously deficient as a sponsor" and there was a "serious, systematic failure where a university does not have the capacity to be a proper sponsor." According to Mr Green, one quarter of non-EU students sampled were studying at London Met without leave to remain in the UK. The Telegraph reported that the UKBA had further concerns and would be investigating hundreds more students.
In response to the ban, London Met announced it would commence legal action against UKBA, claiming the report was wrong, reported The Guardian. Vice-chancellor, Malcolm Gillies: "My university is going to seek for this revocation to be stayed … because our analysis with leading immigration lawyers demonstrates that this report of the UKBA is wrong … We fundamentally contest the claim that there is systemic failure here."
In a separate article, The Guardian also reported that students and staff have protested the decision. Now studying at a university without a licence, the 2,700 non-EU students at London Met must either transfer to a new institution or face being sent back to their home countries. As reported in Issue 10 of the IEU, without a tuition protection scheme in the UK, these students will be required to pay another set of tuition fees in addition to those already paid to London Met.
Further damaging news has come out of the UK, with The Australian reporting that some 50,000 economic migrants had entered Britain by falsely posing as students. British Politicians condemned the policy after a report from the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee found that the 2009 visa changes had been introduced without ensuring proper controls were in place.
"The result of the UKBA's poorly planned and ill-thought out course of action was chaos: an immediate high level of abuse of the new system and a surge in the number of student visas," said committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge.
The Hindu reported that in light of both stories, Prime Minister David Cameron has spoken out, reassuring students they are still welcome in the UK. Mr Cameron: "What I want to see is Britain open to students and let’s be clear: anyone who can speak English and who has a university place is able to come here and study and use our universities. But, quite rightly, the Immigration Minister has been very hard in terms of closing down bogus colleges and making sure good universities like [London Met], if they are not meeting the rules, they have to take action. That must be right if we are going to control immigration."
Despite Mr Cameron’s assurances, however, This Is Leicestershire reported that one student had already been wrongly deported to India even after a judge had issued an 11th hour order postponing his removal. Ram Godhanya was sent back to India in July after failing to inform officials that he had enrolled in a new college after his former college had closed. However, the issue seems to have come about after written requests regarding Mr Godhanya’s intentions went unanswered because they were sent to his former address.
Following legal representation, the UKBA arranged for him to fly back to the UK recently.
In Issue 17 of the IEU, PIER reported that The Australian Financial Review had received a leaked document regarding the rollout of SVP arrangements to non-universities. We asked whether you thought this was a good idea and to which sections it should be rolled out.
We are still keen to hear your thoughts and the survey is still open. Please fill out the quick survey.
The International Student Leadership Program (ISLP) is an online course that develops leadership skills for Australian and international students. The program has been designed to develop leadership, advising and support skills and provide students with a working knowledge of the Australian international education industry and an understanding of the regulatory framework.
The ISLP develops the skills and knowledge to effectively lead and support international students studying in Australia.
Upon completion of the program, students receive an online certificate. Students who have completed the program have used it to springboard into leadership positions in their institution’s student body.
The ISLP is a free online course developed in association between the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) and PIER.
To access the ISLP, visit http://cisa.edu.au, click the International Student Leadership Program logo and follow the prompts to register.
New legislation in front of the State Duma could see one in five Russian universities close by 2014, reports ICEF Monitor.
The New Zealand Herald reports Immigration NZ has been unable to link staff in its Beijing office to fake visas.
Germany’s "Blue Card," modelled on the US’ "Green Card," has received huge interest from foreign students, reports DW.
Two thirds of international students interested in studying in the US who use agents are "academically unprepared," reports The PIE News.