Welcome to my October blog, which has a distinctly international feel to it.

Firstly, BAC has been providing expert consultancy support to institutions, awarding bodies and governments. Over the past year we have been in discussion with the Higher Education Council, part of Bahrain’s Ministry of Education, regarding providing support in setting up an accreditation framework for Bahrain’s private universities to supplement existing quality assurance processes. On 16 September 2013, the contract to begin this project was signed by me and Prof Riyad Hamzah, Secretary General of the Higher Education Council. The first scoping phase of this project has been completed and we will shortly progress to the development of a system of accreditation. For further information on this project, please contact consulting@the-bac.org.

We continue to receive requests to meet and share insight with overseas government agencies and in July our Chief Inspector and I met with a delegation from the Council for Private Education, from Singapore’s Education Ministry. This month we welcome a group from Turkey’s Education Ministry, which is seeking insight into accreditation arrangements for vocational and technical education.

You may be aware BAC launched a second international accreditation scheme in October 2012 in response to increasing demand for our accreditation from overseas institutions which wanted to seek British accreditation in recognition of the UK standards they applied.

In July 2013, Haward Technology (http://www.haward.org/) was the first organisation to achieve BAC accreditation as an International Centre. Haward Technology provides technical training in the energy and engineering sectors and has a portfolio of around 1500 courses. Training is offered in numerous locations including Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha. Upon receiving accreditation, Ms Paulette Sangalang (General Manager – Operations) reported that:

“Truly, this is again another important milestone for Haward Technology in our continued and consistent efforts to provide only the best internationally-recognised courses to our clients globally.”

Congratulations to Haward Technology. If you’d like to know more about BAC’s international accreditation schemes please contact our Operations Manager, Ms Christina To (christina.to@the-bac.org).

Finally, to continue with the international theme, BIS has launched its International Education strategy, which recognises the value of the UK’s international education sector and outlines how it intends to grow such services over the next period. You can download the report here. It’s great to see in writing BIS’ desire to increase the number of international students studying in the UK by 15-20% over five years but this is presented with the backdrop of the Home Office’s insistence that students are migrants and net migration figures must continue to be reduced. Linked to this, I attended a Labour Party fringe event on immigration during the Party conference and was pleased to hear the Shadow Immigration Minister, Chris Bryant MP, talking very positively about the contribution international students make to the country. It seems that were Labour to come into power there would be no notional immigration target set, akin to what the Coalition Government is chasing.

In other news, on 9 October I attended the launch of the Higher Education Commission’s most recent report on Regulating Higher Education. BAC contributed to the initial research associated with the report, when I met to discuss the independent HE sector with one of the contributors. The report makes a number of recommendations, including encouraging an equitable regulatory playing field on which publicly and privately funded providers of HE could operate. The launch was attended by the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, and I expect that the report will garner attention in Whitehall.

If I might end with a reminder that the Home Office has announced changes to how the visitor visa routes may be used for study. You’ll find details in an earlier post. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about how this may impact you. I also continue to keep an eye on the situation re visitor bonds, which the Home Office announced in a fit of ‘enthusiasm’ earlier in the year. The message I continue to get from the Home Office is that bonds have not been introduced in any region and it’s still under consideration whether it will be. I’ll update you should we receive any further news.

Gina Hobson
Chief Executive