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Independents in demand

Claudia Civinini analyses the 2015 Ialc research to reveal what language travel agents really look for in a partner institution

The International Association of Language Centres (Ialc) commissioned in-depth research from StudentMarketing into the study travel industry, with a particular focus on agents’ opinions. What emerged is not only a general picture of the trends that govern the industry (see September 2015 Gazette) but also, for the first time in the industry’s history, a factual, measurable and evidence-based peek into the agents’ preferences and experience of working with independent and chain schools.

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Interesting facts about grammar (really)

Anne O’Keeffe and Geraldine Mark discover what students really learn – and when

We have spent the last four years researching learner grammar using the Cambridge Learner Corpus and have found many surprises. We were asked by Cambridge University Press and Cambridge English (as part of the English Profile project) to come up with a list of grammar items that learners know – or ‘can do’ at each CEFR level. By this we’re talking about what they can do with forms, meanings and uses.

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UK edges up the global uni rankings


UK universities have generally improved their positions in this year’s World University Rankings, slightly at the expense of US institutions.

The California Institute of Technology keeps its position at the very top of the 2015–16 THE World University rankings table. Right after Cal Tech are Oxford, Stanford and Cambridge, followed in fifth place by MIT (up one spot from last year), then Harvard (pushed down from second place last year by Oxford and Cambridge), Princeton and Imperial College London in eighth position (up one from last year). The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich is in ninth place, up from thirteenth in 2014–15, followed by tenth-place university of Chicago (up one place). With the exception of University College London at fourteen and Toronto at nineteen, the rest of the top twenty is dominated by the usual US super-brands, with LSE and Edinburgh in 23rd and 24th place respectively. Melbourne was Australia’s top-rated university, holding a respectable 33rd place.

There are now 34 UK institutions in the top 200, a total second only to that of the US, and the UK now has the second-highest proportion of international students in its student body – the US still has the highest. After the US and the UK, Germany is the country with the highest number of top 200 universities – twenty – topped by LMU Munich in 29th place.

In the Nordics, the University of Copenhagen leapt 78 places to 82nd, Lund (Sweden) climbed 29 places to 90th and Helsinki, at 76th, became Finland’s first top 100-ranked university.

In Asia, Japanese universities didn’t do too well. The only two left in the top 100 are the University of Tokyo – falling twenty places to 43rd – and Kyoto, crashing 29 places to joint 88th. Tokyo Institute of Technology and Osaka dropped out of the top 200 altogether. The National University of Singapore held 25th place while Nanyang Technological University, also in Singapore, climbed six places to 55. Chinese climbers were Peking University – which rose six places to 42 – and Tsinghua, up two places to 47. Korean universities in the top 200 were topped by Seoul National (at 85th), while Pohang, Kaist and Sungyungkwan all fell slightly. India’s higher education institutes all remained somewhere below 250th place.

Some Russian institutions performed well, with Lomonosov Moscow State University – the Federation’s only top 200 institution – leaping 35 places to 161st place. The THE Brics and emerging economies universities ranking isn’t out until December.

Boys think English is ‘for sissies’

Jamaica faces a crisis as boys reject the English language. Boys associate doing well in English tests with being well-behaved and therefore ‘girlish’. Jamaican national newspaper the Gleaner reported in September that a recent British Council survey of eight schools and two teacher training colleges found that proficiency in English reading and writing were viewed as a ‘mark of effeminacy’, contributing to the decline in students’ performance in English assessments.

Only 65 per cent of students passed the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate in English this year – 1.4 per cent down on last year. Just under three quarters of girls passed, but only 55 per cent of boys. Jamaican boys are seeking ‘refuge’ in patois, the island’s English-based Creole language with West African and Irish influences. Young males (and much of the country’s population) speak this in preference to the country’s official language, Jamaican Standard English.

UK FE goes international

International director for the Association of Colleges John Mountford on how UK public sector FE colleges are taking their expertise overseas

The growing trend for UK public sector further education (FE) colleges in 2014–15 has been towards delivering technical and professional education on the international stage.

Transnational education is both interesting and challenging, and is exemplified by the impressive number of colleges that have taken up the opportunity of managing institutions in the Saudi Colleges for Excellence programme and those working through the UK India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI) programme to help build capacity in India’s new community college sector.

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