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Dog Care vs Hosting International Students – which is the most heavily regulated?

By Aegis UK February 24, 2022

To highlight a grey area in UK legislation, we are comparing educational guardianship to another care industry – that of dogs.

Alarmingly, there is no statutory licence, vetting or training required for people or companies wishing to provide educational guardianship or hosting services for international children for short stays – typically exeats, half-terms, Christmas and Easter holidays. In stark contrast, those running home boarding businesses for dogs in the UK are required to meet a comprehensive set of minimum standards and require a licence*.
These regulations focus on meeting the welfare of dogs and include: carer to animal ratios, separate rooms for dogs, staff training, home inspections to check that facilities are in good repair, food quality, and monitoring of the wellbeing and health of the animal. Failure to comply with the legislation can ultimately result in a prison sentence or fine.

What about educational guardianship?

The only legislation in place is for Private Fostering, which applies to long stays. An arrangement where a child/international student aged under 16 years (18 if they are disabled) is staying in a homestay, for 28 consecutive days or longer, would fall under a private fostering arrangement (S.66 Children Act 1989). Schools and educational guardians are obliged to report arrangements to the local authority where the student is staying and the local authority will conduct relevant checks.
As the majority of students under the care of educational guardians for the short holidays do not reach the Private Fostering threshold, this presents a huge safeguarding gap for international students studying at UK boarding schools.

AEGIS has been filling this gap in safeguarding since its inception in 1994.

AEGIS plays a unique and critical role in the guardianship world, being the only entirely independent charitable body regulating the industry. 
AEGIS has designed its own Quality Standards in order to ensure greater protection for students in the care of educational guardians and homestays.  All of our accredited guardianship companies have been through a rigorous inspection process which ensures that policies, procedures and insurance are in place, homestays are vetted and health and safety checks of homes have been carried out. The AEGIS Quality Standards can be read here: AEGIS Quality Standards.
AEGIS inspections are carried out by experienced, independent inspectors.  We encourage schools and overseas parents to request the latest inspection report for all guardians, to ensure they have been properly vetted.
Where the welfare of international students comes first

Revised National Minimum Standards for Boarding Schools

AEGIS has been highlighting the lack of regulations around the care of international students at the highest levels for many years.  We were pleased to see the introduction of the new standard on educational guardianship in the draft standards for boarding schools and we eagerly await the publication of the final standards.
*Dog home boarding analogy attributed to Lana Foster, Managing Director of Bright World Guardianships