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Reported confusion over South Africa’s student visa criteria

Reported confusion over South Africa’s student visa criteria

Reported Confusion Over South Africa’S Student Visa Criteria

Although South Africa’s English language schools is a relatively new concept but this industry is already responsible for attracting many international students to South African shores. Scores of international students have been visiting South Africa on student visas while attending a number of English language schools.
Not only has the country’s economy benefitted by the annual spending of these tourists in the country, it has also positively contributed to South Africa’s international image.

Students applying for student visas to study at South African language schools have cited both the quality of these courses and the country’s natural beauty for their reasons in electing to study in the Republic.

Other major contributing factors in students choosing to study in South Africa are; the fact that South Africa is an English-speaking country with it being one of the country’s official languages, the country’s reputation of South Africa as a tourist destination, Affordable costs of studying and living in South Africa and the variety of courses offered by these English language schools.

According to ICEF Monitor’s online article, “The economic impact of the language sector was estimated at R2.6 billion (US$243 million) in 2009. However, as important as the sector is to the South African economy, language school providers are currently struggling with confusion around the implementation of new immigration legislation introduced earlier this year.”

It seems that the newly legislated laws are unclear if student visa applications for people planning to study at one of the English language schools will be approved.
“This policy, if interpreted a certain way, would exclude prospective language school students around the world from receiving a South African student visa,” stated the ICEF Monitor article.

According to this article one of South Africa’s major export products, and large contributor to the countries desired destination status, is in fact that our English language courses are gaining international acceptance.

The Association of Language Travel Organisation (ALTO) estimated that the global economic impact of language schools on local economies was US$8 billion.
ICEF reported that Education South Africa (EduSA) the national association of English language centres, frequently surveys its members to obtain data on the local market.

The survey found that, “In 2009, 20,825 international students studied at 50 language schools in South Africa. We can imagine this overall enrolment has increased substantially given the growth reported by the smaller group of leading providers that contributed data for the period 2011 through 2013. “

“Surveyed members of EduSA reported an overall 27.9% jump in students from 2011 to 2013 – with particularly impressive growth from other markets in Africa – and a 29.2% increase in student weeks over the same period.”

But the visa rules have caused confusion says EduSA’s MrFitzhenry saying that the law could be interpreted that students at language schools might no longer be eligible for student visas has naturally caused alarm among the country’s language schools, and has sown confusion as to how to process study visa applications for language studies in South Africa.

Speaking to ICEF Mr Fitzhenry said that as language schools wait to see how the new Immigration Act will be interpreted, EduSA is hearing numerous complaints about bureaucratic red tape and unwelcoming messages being communicated by South African embassies around the world to students.

“For now, EduSA members and other language schools are working through official channels to both represent the industry’s concerns to government and to clarify the new regulations. But eventually, they may have to take action to protect their industry,” said Fitzhenry.

Mr Fitzhenry added that, “Language travel in [South Africa] is small, relative to other tourism and edu-tourism sectors. However, we contribute millions of dollars and euros of foreign exchange to our economy… As a group, we have worked tirelessly to ensure that our standing in the market grows, that our destination is recognised as a prime language learning destination, that we supply a quality learning and exploring experience, and that we remain legitimate, quality organisations.

We have created a legitimate industry, and we contribute in so many ways to growth and development. Despite all this we are still struggling to get our government to see and understand the significant benefit to our country in our sector of tourism and education.”

In the immediate future, South African educators and travel operators will continue to work to resolve the important questions arising from the new immigration regulations said Fitzhenry.

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