EO Blog – a new chapter for BAC, & immigration remains top talking point

First of all, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Tony Evans and I took over as Chief Executive of BAC in March. My background is mainly in the private ELT sector and my most recent posts were Director of Language Programmes for INTO University Partnerships, and Principal of St Giles College, London Central. I am also a long-standing member of English UK’s Accreditation and Professional Services Board.

Welcome to my first blog as CEO at the BAC, and news of changes ahead.

There has been much debate over the past few months following the UK’s ‘unwelcoming’ immigration policy, which has led to a drop in international student numbers particularly from India and within STEM subjects, and has given cause for concern over the economic implications for the UK.

The House of Lords released a report on 11 April 2014 raising issues of the contradictory nature of the government’s policies to increase the number of international students by 15-20% by 2019 while simultaneously reducing net migration overall.  Lord Krebs, who chaired the committee, said that the “overwhelming evidence” indicates that immigration rules have played a direct role in deterring international students. The report has led the Lords calling for a more straightforward immigration policy which would exclude overseas students from net migration figures, and for the reinstatement of the post-study work (PSW) visa, which was abolished in 2012.

In other news, HMRC issued a business brief on 22nd April confirming that there are no plans to extend to commercial providers the VAT exemption for educational supplies. Please find the link here to the full brief: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/briefs/vat/brief1814.htm

Here at BAC HQ, we are exploring ways of adding value to what we do for our accredited colleges and institutions, and of encouraging more students to choose to study with BAC accredited providers. We will be attending various industry events in an effort to raise our profile and make more prospective students and institutions aware of who we are and what we do. As we celebrate 30 years as the UK’s foremost accrediting body for independent FE, HE, and much more besides, I believe we should be less reserved about telling people about the good work BAC does and the contribution that makes to driving up standards in the independent education sector. Fortunately, despite the negativity associated with our student immigration policies, the UK remains an attractive destination for international students, and by continuing to strive for higher quality standards we can help to ensure that remains the case.

As a side note, I will be speaking at the Inside Government’s event on Higher Education Provision 2014: Advancing Choice, Enhancing Quality on Wednesday 21 May in London. For those of you who may find this event of interest, please find details at http://www.insidegovernment.co.uk/event-details/higher-education-provision/295/#agenda.

Finally, may I remind our accredited institutions that you are eligible for discounts on a range of services, including The Centre’s training management and communication courses. Please find a complete list at http://www.the-centre.co.uk/documents/The_Centre_Early_Summer_2014_brochure_WEB.pdf

Tony Evans

Chief Executive