April 2013 issue

News Round Up
Inside the industry
Agency Survey
Secondary Focus 1
Secondary Focus 2
Tertiary Focus 1
Tertiary Focus 2
Vocational Focus
Special Report
Course Guide
Regional Focus
Market Analysis

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UK Gold

There were some interesting trends in individual student source markets for UK language schools in 2012. Meanwhile many providers, particularly those in the country’s capital, report they are busy adjusting to life after the London 2012 Olympic Games, as NICOLA HANCOX finds out..

United Kingdom language schools’ overall marketing budget by region % Top nationalites in United Kingdom by student weeks – according to schools, 2012
W Europe 36%
Asia 20%
C&E Europe 19%
Latin America 12%
Middle East 8%
Africa 3%
Australasia 1%
N America 1%
Italian 12%
Spanish 8%
Turkish 7%
Saudi 7%

Korean 7%
Brazilian 6%
French 5%
Swiss 5%

Russian 4%
Chinese 4%

Source: STM United Kingdom school survey

Commission Student numbers by age range
22% is the average commission paid on a language course

One of the institutions profiled paid an average of 5 per cent commission on accommodation

8-11: 4.2%
12-15: 19.5%
16-18: 25.9%
19-24: 24.1%
25-30: 12.1%
30-50: 11.6%
50+: 2.6%

Means of recruiting students in the United Kingdom, 2012 (schools) Reasons for learning English
Agents 54%
Internet 24%
Local bookings 12%
Other means 10%
Current or future work 42%
Further studies in the United Kingdom 26%
University/college Studies at home 18%

For pleasure only 7%
For further studies in Another English-speaking country 6%
No reply 1%

Student's region of origin How did students find out about their school
Western Europe 34.5%
C&E Europe 20.5%
Asia 20%
Latin America 15%
Middle East 7%
Africa 2%
Agent 40%
Internet 30%
Friend/relative 26%
Advertised 4%

Total marketing spend by sector and by category in %
Agency costs 38%
Commission 30%
Incentives 5%
Agency brochures 3%

Travel costs 33%
Agent workshops 10%
Student exhibitions 3%
Agency visits to school 4%
Entertainment 1%

Trips to agencies 15%
Publicity costs 29%
Agent mags etc. 2%
Student mags etc. 3%
Brochure, video etc 12%
Internet 12%

Ask the students – view from the classroom

107 students from 31 different countries schools took part in our survey of UK language schools

The average age was 23 years
The average class size was 9 students
34.5 per cent of respondents were from Western Europe
20.5 per cent of respondents were from Asia
51 per cent of respondents booked their course through an agency
40 per cent of respondents found their school through the Internet
97 per cent of respondents would recommend their school
61 per cent of respondents were staying in residential accommodation in a single room
42 per cent of respondents were learning English for current or future work purposes
67 per cent of respondents found it very easy or quite easy to practise their English with local people
30 per cent of students had been on a previous study abroad trip
79 per cent of respondents thought that there were too many students of one other nationality in their classrooms

Number of participating language schools: 19
Total number of students at the organisations in 2012: 34,650
Total number of student weeks in 2012, estimated: 256,410
Participating schools: Bell, various; Language in London, London; Shane Global English School, various; The Heart of England Language School, Leamington Spa; ECS Scotland, Edinburgh; Exeter Academy, Exeter; Lila*, Liverpool; ELC Experience English, various; Oxford International College, Oxford; LTC Eastbourne, Eastbourne; Brighton Language College, Brighton; Twin Group, London; Kings College, Oxford; Kings College, Bournemouth; London School of English, London; A2Z School of English, Manchester; Link School of English, London; Target Language School, Oxford; Lexis School of Languages, London.

7.4 weeks Overall average length of stay

17 hours Average language tuition per week

While great for the country’s international profile, the London 2012 Olympics left a somewhat bitter aftertaste in the mouths of UK English language schools, particularly those located in the UK capital. According to Tim Barker from Language in Group (LinG), which has centres in London, Dublin and Totnes, the negative ‘Olympic effect’ was most keenly felt at its London campus, with 2012 bookings dipping. However, “On a positive note, we saw bookings in our schools in Dublin and Totnes in Devon increase as people looked for alternative destinations,” he adds.

Paul Clark at Language Teaching Centres (LTC) in Eastbourne, Brighton and London laments that summer bookings at their London centre were also adversely affected by the international sporting event, but market recovery is almost certainly on the cards with adult and group bookings already up on last year. “Best of all, there will be no Olympics in 2013!” he exclaims.

Source markets least affected by Olympic fever were Italy, France and Germany, notes Barker. “I think these markets were least affected by the Games [owing to] short haul flights and less of a negative perception of what the city would be like,” he adds. Fortunately, the games were a temporary blot on the ELT landscape and Barker is confident bookings at their London school will rebound for summer 2013.

According to Bell’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Natalie Dawe, high volume markets such as Brazil and Russia suffered at the hands of the ‘Olympic effect’ in 2012, but the downturn could easily have been attributed to unfavourable exchange rates in the UK market, she adds.

Italians were by far the best performing nationality, in terms of enrolments, for the LinG group of schools, thanks in part to short stay groups, says Barker. Italian adult bookings were also encouraging, he adds.

Dawe concurs, adding that despite its shrinking economy, Italy has been a consistent performer for Bell. Markets experiencing the biggest proportional growth at the school, meanwhile, were Kuwait, UAE, Argentina and France. Dawe reflects that this was fuelled, to an extent, by increased group business. Looking ahead, 2013 enrolments look good compared with the same point in the 2012 booking cycle, says Dawe. There has been increased interest from the Middle East, Western Europe, China and Turkey, while Brazilian and Russian students appear to be booking much later than in previous years.

Down on the UK’s south coast, Brighton Language College welcomed good numbers from Italy, Turkey and Spain in 2012. “These nationalities represented a significant number of students in our summer courses and I am confident of another good year for these nationalities,” says Neil Stawarz, Sales Manager at the school. Disappointingly, enrolments from the South American region were somewhat lacklustre in 2012, he adds, but ground is already being made to counter this. “We have already had a good start to the year in this regard and we hope this will continue throughout 2013,” says Stawarz.

At ELC Experience English, Argentina was by far the best performing domicile in terms of proportional increase, outlines ELC Sales and Marketing Director Kevin McNally. “Argentina has been so successful because of the excellent [agent] partnerships that we have there. There is growing demand from adult individuals (professionals etc) travelling outside the traditional peak time of January/February,” he says.

A growing reputation among existing agent partners has had a positive impact on enrolments at Brighton Language College. “New agent partners had a very positive impact as well,” comments Stawarz.

London International Study Centre (LISC), which offers intensive English courses and specific academic subject courses such as GCSE, iGSCE and one-year A-levels, relocated to new premises and achieved “outstanding ISI inspection results”. This did not go unnoticed by agent partners or student clients, notes School Principal, Grazyna Sutherland. “Better quality agent partnerships with agents who are more knowledgeable and appreciate the importance of high quality education and personal support within small group teaching” also had a positive impact on 2012 enrolments, she adds.

In a conscious effort to go paperless, McNally notes that they are currently upgrading the school’s telecommunication systems. “This is led by demand for both student access and academic resources as we move toward the paperless classroom,” he says. The school has also extended the football summer programme it runs in conjunction with Manchester City Football Club’s Sports Development Team. As a consequence they are seeing new sales from Latin America.

In 2013, Bell will introduce the Diploma in Business programme, combining the main concepts of business with English language development. It will also launch several young learner programmes including English plus fashion, film-making, water sports, horse riding and outdoor survival; Young Performers, for those passionate about performing arts, and International Study Preparation, readying students for the rigours of academia in an English-speaking secondary school or university.

Having launched a few years ago, Link School in London is in the process of establishing a good network of agent partners. Link’s Magda Oziminska notes that this will bring major changes for the coming year. From humble beginnings – the school began offering only general English courses – it has since expanded provision to include conversation classes, Ielts preparation and, from 2013, Business English.

As well as centre renovation works, LinG has also developed its own English language course for juniors in the summer and out of season. “Dynamic English takes the language – the vocabulary and the grammar – that is learned in a traditional syllabus and sets it free,” explains Barker. “The primary aim is to help each person on the journey from language learner to language user.”

Due to customer demand, ECS Scotland in Edinburgh will offer more pre-sessional academic English and exam preparation programmes for CAE, FCE and Ielts this year, says the school’s Laura McKinlay. In addition, she notes that they experienced an increase in requests for English for specific purposes courses such as business, medical and legal English last year.

UK providers have been wise to interpret what could stifle and what could nurture the growth of the UK’s language travel market. In regards to the former, Dawe flags the value of the pound sterling in relation to other currencies. She says, “In 2012, countries banking in the real, the ruble and the euro all found UK courses more expensive, but all these currencies have lost value, making courses invoiced in sterling much more affordable.” Economic and education reforms in the Japanese market also spell good news. “[Japanese] companies’ training budgets [are rising] and some universities are implementing September term starts, creating a gap term after high school finishes in April – which students may like to spend learning a language,” she says.

Meanwhile, McNally notes that route expansion among airlines will pave the way for increased market exposure. “More and more airlines are expanding into regional airports and this is good for a group with a geographical spread like ours,” he notes.

Long-term bookings in the UK may continue to suffer owing to stifling visa regulations, relates Barker. Although he believes schools should not fixate too heavily on visa regulations and attempt to move forward as best they can. “The visa situation has been the same for too long now to use this as an excuse. I cannot see any developments on this in the near future that will be good news for students, so I think that UK schools have to stop talking the negatives and return to the idea of the UK being the number one study destination for students for different reasons.”

Comparing the statistics with 2011

Several respondents recorded relatively high length of stay figures in our 2011 survey (see STM April 2012, pages 55-58), pulling up the overall average length of stay figure to 10 weeks. This year, two schools recorded high average length of stay figures of 23 and 37 weeks respectively. One respondent commented that they typically welcomed students on courses lasting a year, while the other provider related that registrations from 10-to-18 weeks were quite common in 2012. Average length of stay in 2012 was therefore 7.4 weeks, but if the higher two results are omitted this falls to 4.6 weeks.

Monitoring recruitment methods, more schools utilised agent partners in 2012 (54 per cent compared with 51 per cent previously). Slightly less utilised the Internet when recruiting new students, down two percentage points to 24 per cent.

Italian students usurped the Spanish to be the most populous nationality on campus in 2012. Italian and Spanish students were followed by Turkish, Saudi and South Korean students.

We also asked schools about their marketing budget and how this is split between three keys areas of business: agency costs, publicity costs and travel costs. In 2012, the highest proportion of the marketing budget was allocated to agency costs (39 per cent), with commissions averaging 30 per cent of the overall marketing pie. A further 15 per cent was allocated to marketing trips to visit agencies (travel costs).

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

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






Sara's New York Homestay LLC  

English Australia  
Languages Canada / Langues Canada  
CAPS-I (The Canadian Association of Public Schools)_  

Camosun College  
Campbell River School District #72  
Central Okanagan International Education Public  
College of New Caledonia  
COMOX valley - School District 71  
East Coast School of Languages (ECSL)  
University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres  
Ecole Quebec Monde  
Edmonton Public Schools  
Greater Victoria School District #61  
Hansa Language Centre of Toronto  
IH Pacific (Vancouver, Whistler, San Diego)  
Langley School District #35  
Peace Wapiti School Division  
Pembina Trails School Division  
St Giles Vancouver  
University of Victoria  
Waterloo Catholic District SB  
West Vancouver School District #45  

BLS English  
Berlitz Manchester  
Camp Beaumont  
Chichester College  
English Language Centre Brighton & Hove  
English 100  
English School (Northumbria) Ltd.  
GSM (Greenwich School of Management)  
Inlingua Manchester  
INTO University Partnerships  
Kaplan International Colleges  
Lexis London LTD  
Link School  
London School of Business & Finance  
Language Teaching Centres UK  
TUS Advertising  
St Giles International  
Trent College  
Waltham Forest College 

Cambridge Esol  
TOEFL Educational Testing Service  

Guard. Me  
Ingle International  

Centre of English Studies  
Travelling Languages - Think Ahead LTD  
Babylon Idiomas  

EF International Language Centers  

Malta Tourism Authority  

Besant Hill School  
California State University San Marcos  
ELS Language Centers  
FLS International  
Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart  
Glenholme School  
Global Language Institute  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
Intrax International Institute  
Saint John's University  
University of Delaware  
University of California San Diego  
University of West Florida  
Zoni Language Centers  

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