News : News Articles - October 2008

Six schools successfully achieve FELTOM Accreditation.

 

Six of Malta’s foremost language schools have successfully completed a rigorous inspection process to qualify for FELTOM Accreditation. The Chairman of the Accreditation Council, Professor Mark Borg, confirmed that am Language Studio, EC Malta, Inlingua, The Institute of English Language Studies, NSTS – ELI and Sprachcaffe fulfil the required criteria to become fully accredited members of FELTOM.



The FELTOM Accreditation Council with representatives of the 6 newly accredited schools

Over the last twenty years, as the EFL (English as a Foreign Language) industry grew and developed, there was a compelling need for regulation of the industry. This came about with Legal Notice 60 of 1996, which established the EFL Monitoring Board to issue language school licences and oversee the maintenance of standards. Yet almost 10 years after the introduction of this legislation, FELTOM members felt the need to go a step further. In 2004 work started on the formulation of the FELTOM Accreditation Scheme. The objective was to outline and set standards for the various aspects which make up a successful language stay, over and above the basic requirements outlined in the national legislation. These standards had to be in line with those required by accreditation bodies in competing destinations. Indeed, the FELTOM Accreditation Scheme is heavily influenced by the British Council Accreditation Scheme, which is used to accredit English Language Schools in the United Kingdom. By the beginning of 2006, the Scheme was approved by members and was ready to be put into operation.

An independent council was established to vet applications and coordinate the Scheme. Currently the members of the Accreditation Council are: Professor Mark Borg (Chairman), Ing. Nicholas Baldacchino and FELTOM President, Mr. Andrew Mangion. The FELTOM President provides an important link to the industry, ensuring that the Accreditation Scheme remains relevant to changing market demands. The Accreditation Council has established a pool of independent inspectors who carry out the inspection of language schools on its behalf. These inspectors have no connection with the EFL industry but have a comprehensive experience in auditing ISO and quality management systems. 

To date, twelve of FELTOM’s member schools have undergone the rigorous inspection process needed to gain accreditation. Where necessary, schools have invested heavily to raise the standard of the product they provide. There has also been some fine tuning of procedures to ensure the smooth running of their operations. The Accreditation Scheme covers a number of areas including: premises and environment, student welfare, academic matters, and accuracy and consistency in marketing and promotion. Eight schools have now successfully completed the process leading to full accreditation, while another four schools are in the final phase of the process.

Although gaining accredited status has involved a serious commitment from schools, there is general agreement that it was worth the effort. Schools agree that working to attain these standards has actually helped them to run a more efficient system, which can better satisfy their clients. Students and agents often want quality assurance guarantees, and membership of FELTOM can offer such assurance. As the global language industry matures, accreditation by a quality assurance organisation is becoming a necessity rather than an optional ideal. All current and future members of the Federation are required to undergo inspection.

Language schools can benefit from a number of advantages by becoming members of FELTOM. The Federation is a member of GAELA (the Global Alliance of Education and Language Associations) which represents quality providers in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Membership of such international organisations facilitates cooperation and information sharing within the language industry across the globe. On a national level, FELTOM holds regular consultation meetings with various ministries government departments, and stakeholders. Federation membership is open to all language schools that have been in operation for a minimum of two years. Further information may be found on the FELTOM website at www.feltom.com or by contacting FELTOM on executive@feltom.com .