Happy new year! It looks to be a promising one for IELTS learners. Covid-19 continues to impact on international travel, migration and study. However, with vaccines being rolled out, we’ll hopefully see a return to greater normality in many parts of the world.
In the meantime, here’s what’s happening in January:
OET & IELTS news
OET is giving a boost to healthcare professionals around the world with its new OET hero campaign. Five winners will get free help to pass the test, including books, a training course and time with a trainer. So if you’re in the medical profession and you’re looking to take a test this year, it’s well worth entering! You can do so here.
International employment opportunities
UK and Australia adopt new immigration rules, with good news for skilled English speakers in 2021
The end of the UK’s Brexit transition period has allowed the country to move to its much-lauded points-based immigration scheme. This puts skilled migrants from around the world on an even footing with those from the EU. Under the new scheme, the UK will now prioritise the most highly skilled workers: scientists, engineers, academics and medical professionals, among others. Demonstrating English language proficiency with an IELTS test is, of course, a must.
In Australia, too, some now have an easier route to visa approval as the country changes rules to accommodate higher numbers of skilled English speakers. Those who are deemed to be ‘wealth creators’ – innovators, investors and job creators – will be first in line for employer-sponsored, global talent and business visas. There’s a new requirement for English language proficiency: all candidates for permanent visas – and their partners too – now have to take an English test or, in some cases, ‘demonstrate reasonable efforts to learn the language’.
EU students now need visas for UK – but new scheme means opportunity for others
January brings Brexit changes for students as well as economic migrants: those from the EU and the four EEA and EFTA countries (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein) now need the same visa to attend UK universities as their peers from elsewhere in the world. The UK also no longer participates in the Erasmus European exchange scheme – but it will be replaced with the new, £100 million Turing scheme, which favours student exchanges in other parts of the world. And unlike Erasmus, the Turing scheme favours applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Canada and UK borders open to students
Although most countries remain closed to international students, two that have reopened borders are Canada and the UK. In Canada, anyone with a visa can enter the country, subject to health checks and quarantine rules. Students at UK universities can also cross the border. However, as of 11th January, a negative Covid-19 test taken less than 72 hours before departure will be required.