Our history and founders

Eaquals was founded in 1991 by a group of education professionals with a shared vision of an international quality association for all languages

Eaquals was officially founded on 2nd December 1991 in Trieste, when the 10 Founders put their signature to the Foundation Document. However, that official occasion in a notary’s office was preceded by over a year of intensive work by the ten individuals concerned, supported by the organisations they represented (or in some cases owned), nine of which became the original Founder Members of Eaquals.

The Founders had a shared vision of an international quality association with its own common standards and a rigorous accreditation scheme. In a series of meetings, held in a number of European capitals, they came to a common agreement on the key principles and aims that should govern the way Eaquals operated, expressed in the original Codes of Practice, and on what Eaquals’ activities should be.

Eaquals marked its 25th anniversary in 2016. Watch this short film to see how the Association began and how it has developed.

Our Name

The name ‘Eaquals’ originally stood for the European Association for Quality Language Services, reflecting the Association’s strong links with Europe and European languages. The name was later changed to Evaluation and Accreditation of Quality Language Services to reflect Eaquals’ development worldwide.

Much has changed in the intervening years, but Eaquals members of today owe a debt of gratitude to the Founders and their organisations.

Our Founders

Peter Brown, owner and Director of the British School of Trieste, which is a Founder Member of EAQUALS: Peter was one of the main inspirations behind EAQUALS and became its Founder Chair; Peter was in a sense responsible for developing a concept that would pull together the network of Founders, many of whom previously did not know one another.

Patrick Clare (who died in April 2013), co-owner and Director of the British Institute of Rome. Patrick like Peter had been closely involved with AISLi, the Italian Association of Language Schools, since its foundation in 1979, and became an EAQUALS Board Member.

Virginia Cowley, owner and Director of the British Institute Seville, which is still a Founder Member of EAQUALS: Virginia was especially motivated by the absence at the time of any properly developed accreditation scheme for schools in Spain, and the need for offering reassurance to students and their sponsors through external accreditation.

Tony Duff, at the time Director General of International House London, which is a Founder Member of EAQUALS: Tony brought with him experience of working at senior level in language education in the UK and close knowledge of the British Council recognition scheme, as well as experience working within a large international network, now known as the International House World Organisation (an EAQUALS Associate Member).

Frank Heyworth, then Director General of the Eurocentres Foundation, based in Zurich, which is a Founder Member of EAQUALS: Frank, who retired from Eurocentres in 2000, had extensive experience of running language schools in a number of different countries, including the UK with its well established recognition scheme. Frank became an EAQUALS Board Member and later EAQUALS’ first Secretary General (i.e. Executive Director).

Arne Kasten (who died in 2009), co-director of Briam Instituto, Madrid, which never became an Accredited Member of EAQUALS: Arne, who retired from Briam a few years later, was passionate about the need for quality standards in language education, especially in countries without an external accreditation scheme like Spain and many other countries at the time.

Javier Lacunza Senior (who died in 2013), Founder and Director of Academia Lacunza, San Sebastian, which is a Founder member of EAQUALS: Javier’s experience of starting a school from scratch and building it into a very successful business offering courses in various languages at different locations in the city gave him a very practical view of what EAQUALS could and should mean in places where there was no accreditation scheme.

Eion O’Brien, then Director of the English Language Institute, Dublin: Eion brought with him experience of founding and running a one of the earliest schools of English in Ireland, which was at that time growing in importance as a venue for language courses.

Richard Rossner, then Head of Overseas Operations at the Bell Educational Trust. Richard, acting on behalf of Alan Maley, then Director General of Bell, also had close experience of a high quality school network in four countries in Europe, and of the British Council scheme in the UK. He later became a Board Member and was Executive Director of EAQUALS from 2006 to 2011 and Chair from 2014 to 2016..

Mary Towers (who died in 2011), Founder and then Director of the Language Centre of Ireland, which was a Founder Member of EAQUALS until it ceased to operate in 2010: as a pioneering founder of a high quality school and co-founder of IALC, the International Association of Language Centres, Mary understood and vigorously endorsed the need for rigorous international standards in language education.