Welcome to my December blog, where I update on recent and planned activities at BAC.

Firstly, I was invited to attend and present at the recent Higher Education Leadership Forum conference held in Dubai and organised by the Center for Learning Innovations and Customized Knowledge Solutions (CLICKS). The conference considered the challenges and opportunities associated with becoming a world class university in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with my contribution focusing on the role of accreditation in this context. You can access my workshop presentation and paper below. BAC’s profile in this region is rising, in part linked with the project we are conducting for Bahrain’s Ministry of Education, and we expect it to continue to do so as other projects are discussed and our international accreditation is sought.

The conference was well attended, with around 200 delegates. I met with representatives of HEIs from the region and Europe, some of whom were considering applying for BAC accreditation, as well as individuals from the British Council, International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank), Leadership Foundation for HE, pwc, Association of Arab Universities, International Council for Open and Distance Education and beyond.

Moving on, a number of training providers have been in touch with questions in relation to recent changes to the use of the business visitor visa route. I contacted the Home Office to request further guidance regarding using the business route for study and the following links have been recommended:

Delegates may study if they have entered the UK using a business visitor visa assuming that: the training provider is accredited and the course of study is for up to 30 days. Should you have questions relating to the changes, please get in touch. Linked to this, I understand via an article in the Sunday Times (3 November 2013), that the proposed bonds for some visitors to the UK has now been formally scrapped.

Next, I’ve mentioned in an earlier post the research by IPPR which BAC has been involved in. The report, Britain wants you! Why the UK should commit to increasing international student numbers, has now been published and we’re particularly pleased to see recommendations to:

  • Commit to increasing the number of international students studying in the UK
  • Align working rights regardless of which part of the education sector the student studies in
  • Invest in gathering improved longitudinal data about students’ pathways through the immigration system
  • Improve cooperation and collaboration between BIS and the Home Office
  • Introduce a more selective approach to credibility interviews
  • Improve the offer of post-study work beyond existing (confusing) arrangements

See here for a press report.

You may like to consider directing your students and applicants to a couple of websites, one offers guidance to students on selecting the right course in a recent interview I gave. While the other is the recently re-launched Education UK website, which is a mine of information relating to study in the UK.

Finally, early warning that BAC’s office will close at 4:30pm on Mon 23 December and will re-open at 8:30am on Thurs 2 January, but I’ll save my Season’s Greetings until a little closer to the end of the year!

Gina Hobson
Chief Executive