Cyprus considers ELT sector reforms
The government in Cyprus is considering reforms to assist the country’s English language teaching sector, following proposals presented to parliament by the English Language Centre/Malvern House Cyprus.
A document presented to four different ministries in a parliamentary hearing called on the government to realise the potential for growth by investing in quality assurance, joint marketing, flight schedules and reforming student visas.
Yiota Kontolouca, Director of English Language Centre and Malvern House Cyprus, made the presentation to parliament and highlighted how the sector was expanding: “The Cyprus English language travel industry is organically growing in accordance with the rising demand from overseas students. The competition on the island has doubled in five years, which just emphasises the potential to develop the ELT industry.”
She drew parallels with the growth in nearby Malta. “Our study suggests that with consistent marketing and industry development, ELT can generate over €10 million (US$13.4 million) by 2015 and over €45 million (US$60.3 million) by 2020 for the Cyprus economy alone, attracting students in the shoulder months (low season) and attracting new nationalities.”
It was recommended that an independent industry regulator should introduce a quality assurance scheme for the sector, that an ELT regulatory body should be recognised by government as the main representative body for the industry, and that the body should engage in joint marketing efforts, uniting universities, language schools and tourism bodies.
Kontolouca said achieving government-level recognition was one of the most important aspects in moving forward, as this would drive standards within the industry and increase external recognition of quality.
The relatively few direct flights from major European destinations were highlighted as a problem, and it was suggested that the EFL industry be informed well in advance of flight schedules and involved in planning schedules, including the possibility of chartering flights.
The document also called for the introduction of a three-to-12 month student visa as a means of encouraging longer-term language study in Cyprus and increasing the length of stay beyond the current average of 2.5 weeks.
Alongside legislative proposals, a marketing plan has been submitted to the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) which targets measures such as an increased presence at agent workshops, a first Cyprus educational fair and training for CTO staff worldwide.
Kontolouca said she was confident that both of the measures would be adopted in the coming months and said there was broad political consensus on pushing the ELT industry forward. Data issued by the CTO showed that the number of incoming students grew by 35.6 per cent in 2012 to around 2,000 students.
Elicos sector grows
The English language sector in Australia recorded growth in both enrolments and commencements during 2012, the first yearly increases in both counts since 2009, according to student visa data released by Australian Education International (AEI).
Enrolments for 2012 rose by 0.2 per cent to 95,224, while 75,377 commencements equated to a 4.2 per cent rise. English Australia Executive Director, Sue Blundell, welcomed the figures. “The last three years have been tough ones for the English language sector in Australia, with a range of factors driving a decline in student numbers over this period. The latest statistics on student visa commencements, however, have given cause for cautious optimism that 2013 will prove a better year for the industry.”
Examining the increases, Blundell said promotional efforts by colleges and peak body lobbying were paying dividends. “The opportunity to access post-study work rights is driving growth in the academic preparation segment from countries like China, whilst Australia’s strong economy and work rights for students with a student visa are driving growth from many of the European markets.”
The news was less positive for other sectors, with enrolments down 4.3 per cent in higher education, 14.2 per cent in VET, and 6.9 per cent across all sectors.
Meanwhile, English Australia (EA) is planning to improve communication with agents, following the release of findings from its Agent Survey. The survey was completed by 703 agents from 72 countries after it was distributed through a number of channels, including Study Travel Magazine.
Explaining the purpose and timing of the survey, Blundell said, “With a new brand and a new website with a dedicated section providing resources for agents, we want to make sure that agents know who we are and how they can access these resources.” (See this month’s Q&A, page 15).
Babylon Idiomas celebrates a decade
Spanish language school chain Babylon Idiomas recently celebrated its tenth anniversary at a national meeting in Barcelona. Babylon Idiomas now owns four schools in Spain and works closely with two integrated partner schools in Malaga and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Director Steven Muller said the company achieved a turnover of €4 million (US$5.3 million) in 2012, a 25 per cent increase, teaching 4,000 students. Spanish tuition accounted for 70 per cent of turnover, with English constituting 30 per cent. “I am very proud of my team and what we have achieved over the last ten years,” said Muller. “How have we managed to grow our business? Perseverance, ingenuity, customer service and a smile are a great start to get you there.”
Alphe Asia 2013 sees record growth
The recent Alphe Asia 2013 workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, recorded significant growth in both educators and agents over last year.
Held at the Intercontinental Bangkok, the event attracted 56 different educational institutions a 33 per cent increase over 2012 while 95 agents from 80 agencies were in attendance, compared with 87 from 75 agencies previously. Eighteen student markets were represented.
Satisfaction was high at the event, which was supported by the Thai agency association Tieca. “I really enjoyed these couple of days; it’s been enormously useful,” said Matt Biss, Regional Sales Manager for Malvern House London, UK. “It’s obviously great to meet so many quality agents in a short space of time.”
Additional networking was provided by welcome drinks and an evening meal for delegates preceded by the Directors’ Club drinks reception, an opportunity for industry decision makers to gather.
Nobel Education group expands into Turkey and Oman
The Nobel Education Network of secondary schools is expanding with new schools opening in Turkey and Oman this year.
Established in 2010 and based in Berlin, Nobel operates a network of Nobel Talent Schools, with each offering a unique World Topic based on the location’s narrative, geography and context, which is integrated into the International Baccalaureate curriculum.
“Istanbul’s unique geography and history as a meeting point of East and West lent itself to the World Topic International Relations and Cultural Diplomacy, said Michael Wieland, Senior Project Manager at Nobel. “In Muscat, our Nobel Talent School will have the topic Sustainability, which embodies Oman’s aspiration to become a leader in renewable resources as it transitions from a fossil fuel-based to a knowledge-based economy,” he added.
Wieland explained the group’s philosophy. “What sets Nobel Education Network apart is an emphasis on unique talent development and the World Topic system. This is how we combine high-quality academic education with a specialised focus that nurtures talent in areas often neglected by traditional education systems but crucial for the 21st century, e.g. entrepreneurship, sustainability and discovery,” he said.
The new schools add to Nobel’s centres currently operating in Vienna, Austria (world topic of music); Faro, Portugal (discovery); and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (entrepreneurship). Further schools are scheduled to be added to the network in Berlin, Germany; Innsbruck, Austria; and Jersusalem, Israel.
In terms of working with agents, Wieland said, “Nobel Education Network believes that every child possesses talent and helps students discover and develop their individual talents and motivations. Therefore, we hope to collaborate with agents who believe in finding the best fit for a student based on their unique potential, rather than a specific region.”
Langports to move to new Brisbane campus
The Brisbane campus of Langports English Language College is moving to new modern premises in the centre of the city.
Set to open this month, the stand-alone building will feature 22 classrooms spread across three floors and will have a student capacity of 320. Additional features include two computer labs, a student library, a student kitchen and dining area, indoor recreation and Internet stations on all floors, and free Wi-Fi. An atrium will provide natural light into the building, and there is also an outdoor courtyard/recreation area.
The location, on Herschel Street in a newly developed area of the city, is a short walk from bus terminals, the Roma Street Parklands, Queen Street shopping area and Southbank Parklands. John France, Langports CEO, said, “It’s a very exciting time in the development of Langports and we are sure that it will be one of Australia’s finest English language school facilities.”
Saudi Arabia extends scholarship scheme
A five-year extension of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship Programme (KAFSP) has been approved and will commence from the end of the current phase of the scheme in November 2015, the Ministry of Higher Education has announced.
Following King Abdullah’s approval of the continuation of the scheme, the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Anqari said that more than 150,000 Saudis were currently studying abroad under KAFSP, which was launched in 2005, and that the extension would provide opportunities for more Saudi citizens to obtain higher education qualifications in various disciplines. He added that the scholarship has been a success in meeting national development plans and satisfying labour demand, and that there had been a very low dropout rate of below two per cent.
The USA has been a particular beneficiary of KAFSP, with the last Open Doors data recording 34,319 Saudi students at higher education institutions in 2011/12, an increase of 50.4 per cent over the previous year.
Recently, the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) to the USA released a list of authorised English language programmes, after some institutions had become oversaturated with Saudi students. SACM has a goal of Saudi students not exceeding 35 per cent on any programme.