Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Are you part of an agent association or have you been trained or accredited by an organisation?
Renato Silveira, 2001 Travel, Brazil
“I am not part of any agent organisation as there is only one in Brazil [Belta]. The students look for whoever has experience and works well. They know, at least in Brazil, this does not mean anything. I don’t need to be “accredited” by anyone, even though I know the members of the administration and they are good. But there is no need to spend so much money on an organisation that will give you just a badge and a mailing list.”
Nurhan Sezgin, Director, Avustralya Egitim Merkezi, Turkey and Australia
“I’m an agent based in Australia but with an office in Turkey as well. I’m not part of any particular agent organisation. There are many independent agencies that schools and students are happy to work with. Being part of a private group of agents is not a way of identifying or eliminating unscrupulous agents. In the same way, not being associated with an agency grouping does not mean that an agent is a rogue or is unscrupulous. I will only be happy to be accredited by a government-regulated body, not a self-regulating private body of agents. Often self-regulating agents have their own agenda and are controlled by larger agents or agents who have been around for much longer than others. Accrediting bodies should be independent and regulated by an impartial independent body.”
Nanthapol (Bon) Hansakwong, The Dean Inter Education Consulting, Thailand
“Public universities would prefer to work with an accredited agent. This is just for the sake of credentials. However, private institutions tend to look at recruitment performance and ethics of an individual agent rather than accreditation. At the moment, knowledge of accreditation is limited, it would take a long time for students to recognise an accreditation and be aware of its benefit. The decision to be accredited is driven by the market. Most students do not yet take accreditation into consideration with an agent. Therefore the accrediting body needs more branding of their [organisation] for the market to build up momentum.”
Tatyana Serova, Director General, Ya Language School, Russia
“We are members of WYSETC and Study Wyse. Our membership in different professional organisations does not mean much for our clients, since they find positive recommendations given by our current/former students more important. However, professional organisation membership plays an important role for our company because it gives us an opportunity to contact and establish partner relations with new organisations. Currently we are discussing the possibility of [affiliating with] the association English UK [as a partner agency].”
Thiago Espana, World Study, Brazil
“We are members of a number of organisations including Belta, WYSETC, Wyse Work Abroad, Iapa, Alto, ICEF and we are in the process [of joining] English UK’s agency scheme and Ialc. I don’t think schools are more likely to work with “accredited” agents as mostly they have other references from the market, but for students I think that it is true. “Accreditation” gives us more credibility and as we sell something they will have only when they arrive abroad, credibility is very important.”
On the move
Isobel Clarke has been appointed Marketing Officer and Groups Coordinator at the Wimbledon School of English (WSE) in the UK. Prior to this she worked at a London-based marketing agency working on marketing campaigns for Shell and Danone. Ms Clarke has lived and worked in Chile, Mexico and China and is looking forward to developing relationships with WSE’s partners.
Larry Jasevicius has been appointed Market Development Manager at Cambridge Education Group in the UK. After completing his MSc in Marketing and Management he spent five years promoting the University of Bedfordshire and Navitas Ltd. in Africa and the Middle East. He said that he joined Cambridge Education Group due to its high teaching standards, world class study facilities and exceptionally talented staff.
Roz Rozidor, who has been English UK’s Membership Manager for the past five years, has moved across to join the association’s marketing team as International Marketing Officer. Roz replaces Alex Jones who has recently joined South Thames College as Senior International Business Officer.
Melanie Raymond has joined Babylon Idiomas in Spain as Account Executive. Previously, Ms Raymond worked as Commercial and Administrative Manager for PERL language school in Paris, part of Ecole des Roches. In her new role based in Barcelona, she will be responsible for developing the agency network.
Andrew Harrison has moved from his role in the operational side of Trinity College London in the UK and has become Business Development Manager, for Language and Drama in the UK and Ireland. He studied Drama and Theatre Arts at Goldsmiths before touring the country with his band. Still an active musician, he joined Trinity four years ago and brings a rounded knowledge of Trinity’s full examination range: language, music, art and drama.
Oliver Opitz, who was appointed Marketing Manager for Central Europe at British Study Centres in the UK four years ago, has recently taken over the Korean and Japanese markets from his colleagues Robert Sozanski and Adrian Liley. His first trip to Seoul and Tokyo, promoting the school’s adult and junior language programmes, took place last month.
urbanest expands in London and Australia
Student accommodation provider, urbanest, has received planning permission to build a 657-room housing complex in the centre of London. The building will feature 14 storeys, rising to 27 storeys at one end and will be located next door to the high speed channel tunnel rail link in King’s Cross.
Johnny Manns from urbanest said, “urbanest is developing the next generation of student accommodation in central London, with a target of up to 3,000 beds in Zone 1, and are delighted to have secured a flagship site at King’s Cross that takes us beyond 1,000 beds already. King’s Cross fits perfectly with urbanest’s goal of delivering innovative student accommodation with a well thought out specification, more affordable rents and a dedicated on-site management team to support and help residents during their stay.”
Founded in 2008, the company has also just opened new premises in Adelaide and Sydney in Australia, offering purpose-built accommodation in studio, six- or four-bedroom apartments, and plans to open a new complex in Melbourne in the near future. The accommodation provider aims to become the largest provider of student accommodation in Australia over the next few years.
Students opting to stay at urbanest have to pay weekly rents that range from US$169 per person for a twin share at the Adelaide premises to US$500 per person for a premium studio at the Brisbane location, including all bills.
Pilot work programme in British Columbia
The government of British Columbia in Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada have announced a pilot project that will allow international student graduates from a number of private post-secondary institutions in the state to apply for Post Graduation Work Permits.
Students will have to have completed courses of eight months or longer at a select number of British Columbia Education Quality Assurance designated private post- secondary institutions and the pilot will run between January 31 2011 to January 31 2013.
Two of the participating organisations include Sprott-Shaw Community College and Sprott-Shaw Degree College, subsidiaries of CIBT Education. Toby Chu, CIBT’s President, CEO and Vice-Chairman said, “This new initiative is expected to boost our international enrolment by attracting more overseas students to our programmes. This latest post-graduate work experience initiative is appealing to international students because they can gain invaluable work experience in Canada. We believe these graduates will then have a competitive advantage in their respective job markets upon returning to their home countries.”
Pearson buys controlling stake in TutorVista
International publishing company Pearson has paid US$127 million for a controlling stake in TutorVista an education technology company based in India.
TutorVista supplies digital content to around 3,000 classrooms across India as well as online tutoring to 10,000 students per month and operates a network of 60 English language centres across Southern India.
Pearson CEO, Marjorie Scardino, said, “TutorVista is an innovative and effective education company that we have worked with and respected for several years. This acquisition which we believe is the largest transaction in education in India by any company signals our excitement about the vitality of India’s education sector.”
Pearson acquired a US$12 million stake in TutorVista in 2009.
Prometric teams up with Amideast
Test provider Prometric a wholly owned subsidiary of ETS has teamed up with Amideast to open a new professional testing centre in Tunisia that will offer academic and professional credential exams.
The test centre will be administered by Amideast, a US non-profit organisation engaged in international education, training and development activities and will offer exams such as Toefl among others.
Charles Kernan, Chief Operating Officer at Prometric, said, “Our strong partnership with Amideast has allowed us to open the doors to a new test centre that will give test takers in Tunisia in-country access to a number of professional exams.”
Phonebox Language School expands into exam courses
UK-based company Phonebox Language School has added a range of exam English lessons to its portfolio of online English courses by phone or skype.
Based in Oxford and London, Phonebox Language School now offers a range of courses including general English, business English and courses for those wishing to take the PET, FCE, CAE, Toefl and Ielts exams. Students on the courses are offered 30-minute lessons talking to native English speakers who are also trained to teach English to speakers of other languages.
A spokesperson from the company said that students can “improve [their] English by skype or telephone with professional teachers anytime, anywhere, 24/7”.
This month we talk to Isabelle Pace Warrington, Executive Officer of Maltese language school association Feltom, about the group’s latest activities.
Full name: Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta
Year established: 1989
Number of members: 16
Type of members: Feltom members are all independent commercial organisations
Membership criteria: Prospective members must be licensed by the Ministry of Education, have been in operation for a minimum of two years, and meet all accreditation standards
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: yes
Association’s main role: Feltom fulfils three major roles: that of leadership in developing quality standards, advocacy and promotion
Government recognition: Feltom is recognised by the Ministry of Education, the Parliamentary Secretariat for Tourism and the Malta Tourism Authority
Code of practice: yes
Tel: +356 2131 0927
What has Feltom been up to as a group lately? Have you gained any new members?
In 2010 Feltom welcomed another new member to the Federation. International House Malta-Gozo successfully completed all accreditation procedures and was awarded full accreditation midway through the year enabling it to become a full member of Feltom. Over the past year we have been working with the Malta Tourism Authority to promote Malta as a quality language learning destination. It has become standard practice for Feltom to conduct an annual review of its accreditation scheme which ensures that the scheme remains relevant to market demands and developments.
Tell us about your workshop this year? What were its aims and do you think you achieved these?
Once again Feltom held the Feltom EFL Malta Workshop in collaboration with Language Travel Magazine in September. The workshop attracted almost all Malta’s most prominent and active language schools. Fifty-two agencies from 20 countries participated in the four-day event. Apart from having the opportunity to meet many school representatives under one roof, agents were also able to visit a number of school premises of their choice.
How do you promote your accreditation activities to new potential members?
Feltom has over the last few years been actively working to attract new members by emphasising the marketing benefits of being an accredited organisation. Every year we visit a number of non-member schools to explain our accreditation scheme. As the only association representing language schools on the island, Feltom has always taken the lead in introducing and developing quality standards within the sector. We are aware that more still needs to be done to promote our accreditation scheme abroad, though increasingly both students and agents demand the quality guarantees that Feltom accredited schools can offer.
What challenges have your members been facing over the past year?
Generally our members experienced an upturn in business in 2010, however global economic uncertainty, fluctuations in exchange rates, and rising costs could easily derail continued recovery. Many of our members have increased their marketing activities to combat these challenges, yet we emphasise the importance of consolidating and improving the quality of the EFL Malta product. Barring any unexpected developments, we expect to see further improvements in 2011.
• According to market research group, Nielsen, outbound travel in China’s second tier cities is becoming as commonplace as outbound travel in tier one cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Seven per cent of more than 3,500 survey respondents said they had travelled abroad in 2010, up from five per cent in 2008. Five per cent of those surveyed in second tier cities, in parts of northern and eastern China, had also taken a trip abroad in 2010, up from two and three per cent. Umang Pabaru, Nielson’s Managing Director for consumer research in greater China, said that more and more Chinese were travelling for leisure purposes. “As they get richer, they are getting more adventurous,” he said. Government data estimates that 57.4 million outbound trips were made by Chinese tourists last year, up 20.4 per cent on the previous year. Comparatively speaking, 61.5 million American tourists travelled abroad in 2009.
• Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi-based airline, is growing its presence in the Asia-Pacific region by signing an extensive code share agreement with Air New Zealand. Etihad will codeshare on flights between Sydney and Christchurch, Rotorua, Wellington and Queenstown, as well as Air New Zealand flights between Brisbane and Auckland, Brisbane and Christchurch and also between Beijing and Auckland. “It opens up five key destinations in New Zealand that we have been eager to offer our customers for a long time,” said Air New Zealand Chief Executive, Rob Fyfe.
• A mobile passenger terminal, complete with check-in desks and computers for self-registration, has been unveiled at Geneva Airport. It is hoped the tent-like construction, designed by Austrian Company, TMT, will help alleviate the pressure placed on small and large airports experiencing temporary capacity problems.
• France’s national carrier, Air France, is to expand its long-haul flight network out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport this summer. A twice-weekly service to the Liberian capital of Monrovia, a thrice-weekly service to Freetown in Sierra Leone, a five-times-weekly flight to Lima in Peru, a three-times-weekly flight to Orlando in the USA and a three-times-weekly flight to Phnom Penh in Cambodia, via Bangkok, will commence shortly.
• China-Sudan relations are forging ahead with the announcement that a Chinese company has won a e900 million (US$1.2 billion) contract to build a new international airport in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. It is hoped the new project, which comprises two 4,000 metre runways, an 86,000 square-metre terminal and a 300-room international hotel, will help strengthen Sudan’s international ties.
• Owing to unprecedented demand, passengers travelling with Monarch Airlines will be able to utilise increased services to Spain, Portugal and Cyprus during April. Additional flights will operate from London Gatwick and Manchester to Lanzarote, Tenerife, Alicante, Malaga, Majorca, Faro and Larnaca. “Bookings for April are already up 49 per cent compared with the same time last year with demand from customers still increasing.”
• According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) the number of global airline passengers is expected to surge by 800 million to 3.3 billion in the next three years, with China and the UAE earmarked as the fastest growing passenger markets. “In five years we need to be able handle 800 million more passengers and 12.5 million more tonnes of international cargo,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “To realise the economic growth potential that this will bring, we will need even more efficient air traffic management, airport facilities and security programmes. Industry and governments will be challenged to work together even more closely,” he added.
Please see the digital issue of Language Travel Magazine for the Grapevine section