April 2009 issue

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Australia’s good position

The Australian dollar’s relative weakness may be a blessing for English language schools in the country in the face of economic uncertainty around the world. So far, so good seems to be the mantra down under. Amy Baker reports.

Providers are cautiously optimistic about the next six months,” reports Sue Blundell, Chief Executive of English Australia, summing up the subtle buoyancy being felt in the Australian marketplace on the back of a very successful 2008. Blundell reports that in an informal survey of members undertaken earlier this year, the majority reported enrolments in January had grown compared with 2008.

“2008 was a wonderful year with student numbers at record levels. We had a growth of 18 per cent,” relates Gary Maserow of Geos in Perth. Fiona Davidson, Marketing Director at Ability Education in Sydney, asserts, “2008 was a massive year for us. Our numbers grew from 230 students at the end of 2007 to 620 to the end of last year.”

And at the University of Western Australia, also in Perth, there is yet more good news to relate. “2008 was a very good year and we saw a 78 per cent growth from 2007,” reports Olivier Charpenay at the Centre for English Language Teaching (Celt). Charpenay points out that the Celt’s status as a university department offers sureties about quality that become ever more important in times of financial recession, and he hopes that this will help Celt ride out any wave of a downturn. “We are maintaining our focus on quality courses and promotional activities,” he says. “It is important that we reassure our partners and students that it is business as usual.”

Like Charpenay, many other schools seem confident that the relative weakness of the Australian dollar will mean that the country remains an attractive study destination. “Australia has not been affected too negatively compared with other English speaking countries as the Australian dollar is quite low compared to the euro as well as South American and most Asian currencies,” he says. Maserow agrees and says, “to this point, we have not noticed any sudden downturn, but here too, it may be too early [to tell].”

Kate Swanson at Langports English Language College in Brisbane and Gold Coast reports that they have felt some effect, notably for Japanese and Korean bookings: “The economic crisis has affected Asian countries strongly and we have noticed a steep decline in the number of Korean and Japanese students,” she relates. “Although,” she adds, “the weakening Australian dollar has helped limit the impact of this and we are hoping to see a small recovery in 2009.”

These two Asian nationalities are clearly the worst hit, based on a sample of schools canvassed, and Fusae Harada at Inter-Cultural Education Today (Icet) in Mona Vale, NSW, points out that unlike other schools, her school which only accepts Japanese students saw a downturn of five per cent in student numbers in 2008. But Blundell at English Australia points out that “these markets have been softening for some time now and numbers from Korea even seem to be recovering as the weak dollar makes Australia more attractive”.

Another incentive to success is targeted programmes in some cases. This is certainly the case at West Coast International College of English in Bunbury, WA. “We consistently have Japanese students and I believe it is mainly because Japanese love the natural environment and are attracted to our English & Dolphins programme and the volunteer opportunities the college can provide to learn about Australian plants and animals,” says Jenny Byatt at the school.

Nevertheless, operators relate that general English courses remain among the most popular options as well as Ielts exam courses, business programmes and academic preparation. “There is a growing demand for our business English and our EAP programmes,” confirms Davidson.

No Chinese boom yet

Changes to the visa assessment level ratings for various countries were made in September last year which meant that various nationalities would find it easier or harder to study in Australia, depending on whether their assessment level (AL) went up or down.

The main amendments to impact on the English language learning sector were a reduction for Chinese students from AL4 to AL3, meaning an Ielts score was no longer required to gain a student visa to study English, while for Indian, Jordanian and Sri Lankan students, a rise from AL3 to AL4 meant they now had to prove an Ielts score before gaining a student visa to study English.

Most English language school representatives that spoke with Language Travel Magazine said they had not seen any real effect of these new visa rules so far. “It is too early to see the effect of the visa change with China and enrolments have not seen any dramatic increase; similarly the change to India’s AL has not shown any dramatic decrease,” says Gary Maserow at Geos in Perth, WA.

At Ability Education in Sydney, NSW, Fiona Davidson reports that “a higher assessment level can mean longer [duration] enrolments” on the upside. On the downside, visa access that is ostensibly easier has to be backed up by a high liklihood of visa issuance. “I think our only disappointment was that the initial excitement of the Elicos visa for China dropping from AL4 to AL3 was short- lived due to the apparent 85 per cent visa refusal rate,” she relates.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Britannia Student

English Australia  
Feltom Malta  
MEI-Relsa Ireland  
Perth Education City
Quality English  

LTM Star Awards  

Internet Advantage
Your World On
In Touch  

Malta Tourism

English Australia  
MEI-Relsa Ireland  
Quality English  

English Australia  
Gold Coast Institute
      of TAFE  
Perth Education City

CERAN Lingua
      (Belgium, France,
      Spain, UK) 

Canadian &
      Student Services
National School
      of Languages  
Richmond School
      District #38  
Vancouver English
      (Canada, Mexico)

Bell International 
      (Malta, UK)
Berlitz UK Ltd  
Bournemouth One
       to One English
      Language School  
English Studio  
InTuition Languages
      (Australia, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, South America,
      Spain, UK, USA)
IP International
      Projects GmbH  
      (England, France,
      Germany, Spain)
Kaplan Aspect 
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
Living Learning
Oxford Brookes
Oxford International
      Study Centre  
Queen Ethelburga's
RLI Language
St Clare's Oxford  
St Giles Colleges 
      (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group  
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Italy, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa,Spain, USA)
Twin Group 
      (Ireland, UK)
University of Essex -
University of Sussex
Wimbledon School
      of English  

Alliance Française
      Paris Ile de France
Home Language
      (Australia, Brazil,
      Canada, China,
      Czech Republic,
      Denmark, England,
      Egypt, Finland,
      France, Greece,
      the Netherlands,
      Hungary, Ireland,
      Italy, Japan,
      Scotland, South
      Africa, Spain, Malta,
      New Zealand,
      Norway, Poland,
      Arab Emirates,
      USA, Wales)
IH Nice  
Universite de Paris

Carl Duisberg
      Medien GmbH  
      (England, Germany)
International House
      Berlin - Prolog  

Active English  
Alpha College of
English in Dublin  
Galway Language
Irish College of
Swan Training
MEI-Relsa Ireland  

Kai Japanese
      Language School  

      Language School  
Feltom Malta  
IELS - Institute of
      English Language
Malta Tourism


Colegio Maravillas  
ESADE - Executive
Español ¡Si!
Malaca Instituto -
      Club Hispanico SL

EAC Language
      Centres and
      Activity Camps.  
University of
      (England, Ireland,
      Scotland, Wales)
EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Ecuador,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, Malta, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Scotland, Spain,

ELS Language
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)