From the March 2012 EL Gazette
Matt Salusbury on a tale of two lists
The UK’s largest news agency, the Press Association (PA), has retracted a November news story that incorrectly listed 66 colleges as having been banned. At least 22 of the centres wrongly named as banned were members of language schools association English UK.
The story originated in a carefully worded UK Border Agency (UKBA)/Home Office press release which featured two lists and explained the difference between them. One was a shorter list of colleges whose licences were withdrawn from the UKBA’s Register of Sponsors for breaching its regulations.
The second list named 66 private further education colleges – and some language schools – that had, in English UK’s words, ‘taken a business decision to voluntarily resign from the Register of Sponsors [for student visas for courses lasting more than eleven months] when a prohibitively expensive new inspection regime became compulsory’. The core business of most of these colleges comprises courses lasting less than eleven months (such as EFL courses). Longer courses – now requiring a new inspection regime – only ever accounted for a small proportion of turnover.
It seems the PA had conflated the two lists. English UK contacted the PA, which ‘swiftly agreed to “clarify” the story’ and sent out a corrected version, removing erroneous versions from its website.
English UK reports that by then the UKBA’s Litigation and Correspondence Team had contacted a national broadcaster requesting them to amend the incorrect story that had appeared on its website.