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Contents - April 2003


Special Report
Exam advantage
The well documented rise in the number of students studying at a university or college overseas is one factor propelling growth in demand for language exam courses, as students need verification that they are linguistically able to cope with an education course. As the market expands, new tests aimed at the professional market are being developed and exams are being improved to reflect a student's strengths at writing, reading, speaking and listening. Gillian Evans reports.


Direction
EU expansion
The European Union agreed last year to extend an invitation to join the EU to another 10 countries. Pending referendums in many of these countries, the EU is likely to swell to a 25-member state, welcoming Malta, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. The implications for language learning are significant, as Amy Baker finds out when she talks to a range of agents about their imminent EU membership.



City Focus
Sydney's surprises
Sydney is Australia's biggest city, and it is widely acknowledged by agents to be the most popular destination for language students. With beaches and the famous harbour close at hand, there are great outdoor opportunities for students in the city itself and nearby, where students may practise sailing or surfing in their free time. Sydney is also a multicultural city and there are plenty of opportunities for students keen to find part-time work. Gillian Evans reports.



Opinion

Big competition
With problems unravelling around the world this year - economic slowdowns, national strikes and serious crises such as the Iraq issue - there is an overiding feeling of global cautiousness that is reflected in the international media.

It is this sense of global suspense, which has been present since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA in 2001, that is responsible for less-than-buoyant sales in the language travel market, say agents, and agencies in Italy point to uncertainty in the international market and fear of flying as two reasons for the market's downbeat performance last year (pages 12-13).

Still, weighing in as a factor bucking the trend for falling sales is the international appetite to study abroad or gain a qualification overseas. Even Italian agents acknowledge that their clients won't put off their overseas study plans forever, and they forecast a more positive market performance this year.

Elsewhere, there are indications that markets are growing thanks to students' desire to study overseas. In Germany, schools point to the fact that there are no tuition fees at university in Germany as a key motivation for students enrolling at German language schools, and agencies confirm the trend (page 21).

In our France Feedback survey, the number of students in France wanting to continue on to university there has also increased by five percentage points since 2001 (pages 16-17).

And agents from a number of countries in central and eastern Europe that are likely to become European Union (EU) members next year, are forecasting a surge in the number of students from their countries applying to study in other EU-member countries, due to decreasing costs (page 19).

Trends in the exam sector of the marketplace underline the increasing demand for certification of language skills prior to entering universities or colleges overseas. The number of Ielts test-takers, for example, was up by 40 per cent in 2001 on the previous year, and exam bodies are updating and improving their exams as they seek to stay competitive in the field.

The company responsible for the Toefl exam has recently launched a new speaking test and is working on a new scoring system. Trinity Colleges London, another exam provider, has also introduced a new suite of exam products, which encourage the use of computer technology (pages 24-30).

Given that the competition is intense for exam applicants and for students themselves, US providers will not be heartened to read that a task force in the USA has concluded that serious efforts need to be made to halt the decline in the country's market share of international students. Nafsa's task force calls for a coordinated, inter-departmental marketing strategy from the government and a sympathetic visa process for genuine applicants (page 4).

As competition continues, it is likely that students will start weighing up rating criteria for education systems around the world and not make their future academic plans based only on cost and reputation. If so, the USA might have more to worry about, according to results from a Unicef survey about the efficacy of worldwide education systems (page 4). The USA was rated at 18th place in the survey, followed by Germany at 19th position, while Canada and Australia were situated in the top five, behind the Asian countries of South Korea and Japan, and Finland.


Opinion
With problems unravelling around the world this year - economic slowdowns, national strikes and serious crises such as the Iraq issue - there is an overiding feeling of global cautiousness that is reflected in the international media.

News
One association
for UK ELT?
Record sales for UK in 2001, report reveals
USA must do better, says Nafsa
Limit on students in NZ?
New Spanish association in Spain
Korea has best education system, says Unicef

Travel News
Ryanair buys
up Buzz
New tracking system for USA
Low-cost carriers in the USA
US alliance threatens to defy government

Agency News
MEI~Relsa meets agents in Moscow
Agent complains about Arels fam trip
New website for Ialca

Agency Survey
Italy's slow pace
Italy's language travel market experienced negative growth in 2002 with world events and the country's own economic performance last year stifling growth.

Feedback
France feedback
Compared with last year's France Feedback, the students in this year's survey were younger and enrolled on shorter courses.

Market Report
Germany's appeal
German language schools all point to the value-for-money offered by the higher education system in Germany as a key motivator among their students. The absence of university tuition fees in Germany means that students are keen to study German in preparation for further studies in the country. There is also a strong base of Western European students who need German language tuition to keep their multilingual language skills up to scratch. Amy Baker reports.

Course Guide
Business in the USA

English has long been the lingua franca of the international business world and many language schools in the USA offer courses specifically geared towards executive learners. Courses offer tuition for practical business situations and can include visits to local companies and the opportunity to socialise with local businessmen.

Profile
Brazil

The largest country in South America, Brazil has a population that is greater than the combined total for the rest of the continent. The majority of the Brazilian people live along the coastline in large sprawling cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Recife, while large areas inland remain largely unpopulated, offering a unique opportunity for visitors to observe the local flora and fauna.

Status
Status: Ireland 2002
The Status survey is a venture by Language Travel Magazine, in collaboration with the Association of Language Travel Organisations (Alto), which gathers specific market data about all of the main language teaching markets in the world.



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