Terrifying Tails on Campus


It’s about education going to the birds….

Last week, Times Higher Education published a story online about birds that have terrorized universitites. There is an aggressive turkey that has been written up in seven police reports at the University of Michigan, the racist swan a the University of Warwick who attacks international students,  hawks that dive-bomb pedestrians on the grounds of New Mexico State University.

Life is a little perilous for people at these campuses, but the rest of us will get a good laugh out of the stories.

Read the article.

Test Cheater in UK Goes to Jail


A resident of Manchester was recently sentenced to ten months in jail for sitting the Secure English Language Test for at least six other people who had no chance of passing. Lax identity checks had allowed Arsalan Ashraf to sit the exam for others… who would pay him the rather small fee of 20 GBP to do so. A spot check by immigration officials found him writing for a Chinese man.

Slow Processing Undermines International Student Strategy













On Monday, the Globe and Mail reported that the Canadian federal government’s commitment to doubling the number of international students studying in Canada by 2022 has been seriously undermined by failing to increase the bureaucrats needed to process the increase in visa applications. Processing times for study permits have increased by 30%, while processing time for temporary visas has doubled. This translates into would-be students having to wait much longer for their study permits than they would have to wait if they were applying to the UK or the United States, consequently rreducing Canada’s competitiveness.

Read the article.

Talking Points with Jeremy Harmer: Overcoming Fossilization

We had a wonderful day and series of events on May 21st when Jeremy Harmer visited our Toronto offices. We invited teachers across Canada and the United States to send in any questions they would like Jeremy to answer, and we will slowly be posting video answers over the next six months or so.

The first post is an answer to Liet Hellwig, a teacher in Vancouver. Liet asked, “how do you deal with fossilised errors in your learners, especially recurrent errors that might prevent them from progressing to English levels necessary for their future?”  Here is Jeremy’s answer:


Fraud in International Student Recruitment in Australia: a Warning for the Rest of Us

Danger Fraud Alert

There is a lot of talk in Australia these days on the subject of fraud and corruption in how international students are recruited and dealt with.

To begin with, there is a great deal of concern over academic standards slipping because of pressure on professors to push international students – which represent a fifth of total enrolment in Australia’s post-secondary institutions – through the system, even when their academic performance is below standards. A recent report on international students in Australia from a governmental anti-corruption commission states that the post-secondary system in New South Wales is so dependent on international students that they cannot afford to fail them. The short term problems include international students not receiving the support they need (or education they hoped for). One of the long-term problems is that the quality of education as a whole declines, the schools’ reputations decline along with it.

A further dimension is that Australian media has been publishing numerous stories and reports on problems in the recruitment of these international students. In Australian post-secondary institutions, the use of recruiters to find international students is wide-spread (while it has been a fairly uncommon practice in the US). It is argued that these recruiters are paid on a “per head” basis and therefore it is unsurprising to find that many of them encourage students to doctor their credentials. Fraud and misrepresentation, in other words, are huge problems.

Read more in Inside Higher Ed, which also makes the point that these problems should be considered carefully as there is more interest in the US to start using more independent agents to recruit international students.

One City’s Plan to Address Labor Shortage and Bump Local Economy by Recruiting International Students

Greater Victoria sign

The Greater Victoria Development Agency recently launched, in partnership with local post-secondary institutions, a new program called Education Victoria. Local government and education clearly agree that their interests are aligned: bringing in more international students will boost revenues for both schools and the local economy. It is estimated that international students in British Columbia bring in $30,000 per head in spending, for a total of 1.8 million dollars (and create 21,000 jobs). Victoria is also facing a labour shortage in the next ten years, so this is also seen as a means to address that problem. The benefit of this partnership is that it can ride on the coat tails of Tourism Victoria’s marketing experience.

Read more in the Times Colonist.

Growth of Indian Students Studying Abroad Surpasses that of Chinese

group of female college girls

According to the University World News, the number of Indian students studying abroad increased by just over 10% in 2014, with a total of approximately 300,000 students. 85% percent of those students went to one of five countries – the US, UK, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. This is an important recovery, as numbers had been dropping for several years. There are still more Chinese students studying abroad than Indian, but again the growth rate was highest with Indian students.

Second Phase of Canadian Immigrant Integration Program Begins


Early in April, Colleges and institutes Canada signed an agreement with Citizenship and Immigration Canada for Phase Two of the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program. This phase will “expand pre-arrival services and ensure consistent curricula and materials worldwide”. The pre-arrival support that CICan has provided since 2007 has contributed to excellent integration outcomes for participants, according to CICan.

Visit’s CICan’s site for the full announcement.

Colleges Responding to Soft Skills Deficit


Surveys of employers over the past few years have consistently shown that recent post-secondary school graduates are lacking in soft skills (otherwise referred to as People Skills, Life Skills or 21st Century Skills). To address this problem, a number of Canadian colleges have been making changes to their programs. Last fall, George Brown College in Toronto piloted a course devoted entirely to soft skills. Other colleges are collaborating with businesses and high schools to address the problem.

We took note of this as we have been promoting Macmillan’s MindSeries, which is unique amongst general English integrated skills courses because it explicitly addresses and develops Life Skills.

Read more in the Globe and Mail.

Number of Chinese Student Studying Abroad Increased Again in 2014


2014 saw an 11.1% increase over the previous year in the number of Chinese students studying abroad, for a total of 459,800. Interestingly, a large portion of this growth was from secondary school students, who approximately 30% of Chinese students stydying abroad. Some students are funded by the state or by businesses, but 92% are self-funded. Most students choose to study in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France and Japan.

Read more in the ICEF Monitor.