Tuesday, July 16, 2024
HomeFeatures and CommentLead EditorialFrom rankings to real estate

From rankings to real estate

Where does your university come in the REF and where will Ireland put all those language students banging on its door?

Just what is the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and what benefit is it to those interested in teaching English? If you’re confused or want to know how it’s relevant to you, Melanie Butler explains all – along with how the UK’s universities have fared in its rankings – in our special feature beginning on page 16.

Now that we’ve entered into what some are calling the ‘new normal’ and others simply post- Covid (though it hasn’t really gone away, has it?) and the dust is settling, it’s pretty clear that there’s been a seismic shift in where students are going to learn English – and it really hasn’t anything to do with the pandemic. No, this time we can point the finger of blame on Brexit and the added complications it’s created for those who might previously have chosen the UK as their go-to destination to study English.

Where are these potential students heading instead? Mostly, it seems, to Ireland, which remains in the EU and looks favourably on those who wish to work while they’re studying. While this might initially appear to be good news for Irish language schools, the knock-on effect in other areas – most notably accommodation for all those additional students – is proving disastrous. Rents have gone sky high, standards have gone way low and the students are getting fed up. Meanwhile, the government there doesn’t seem inclined to provide any solutions for an industry that adds an estimated €130 million to the economy every year and students are being turned away. Turn to page 7 to read more about it.

There’s also an interesting look at the working conditions of English teachers in Ireland, focusing on their own perspective of themselves through a recent study. Turn to page 26 to read about this.

For this issue we spoke to a number of people involved in language acquisition, whether they’re on the testing side, the teaching side or the learning side, to find out what’s new, what we can learn from them and what to expect as we move through the halfway point of the year. Take a look at the interviews and, as ever, let us know what you think. And, if you’d like to contribute to the Gazette – perhaps you’re doing research, have useful teaching tips or are involved in a project delivering English – please get in touch.

Image courtesy of PHOTO BY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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