August 2005 issue

Travel News
Agency News
Agency Survey
Special Report
Market Report
Course Guide
Regional Focus

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Korea's slow climb

The Korean market appears to be picking up slowly after a difficult year in 2003, and a number of agencies believe the junior market is set to become a new growth area to match the college-bound client sector.

Key points
The total number of students placed by the nine agencies in our survey was 7,079

Individual agencies placed between 90 and 4,500 students on language courses in 2003

Average business growth was 7.5 per cent

The average student spend on tuition and accommodation per week was US$369

The average length of stay for Korean students was 21 weeks

Two agencies noted that the Philippines is a new study destination

A number of agencies mentioned that schools first approached them to work together

Agents found more new business partners via Language Travel Magazine than via the Internet

Top destinations Most popular courses
USA 34%
UK 23%
Canada 17%
Australia 8%
Japan 6%
Ireland 4%
NZ 4%
Phillipines 3%
China 1%
General 32%
Intensive (+25h) 29%
Academic prep. 7.5%
Others 7.5%
Junior progs 6%
Exam prep 5.5%
Uni foundation 5%
Summer vacation 4%
Lang + work 3.5%

Reasons for language travel Top languages
Studies overseas 43%
Studies at home 20%
Other 19%
Current work 16%
Pleasure 2%
English 91%
Japanese 6%
Chinese 1%
Spanish 1%
German 1%

How do agencies recruit students?

How do agencies find new schools to represent?
Website 46%
Word of mouth 23%
Advertising in press 9%
Other 8%
Seminars to students 7%
Mail shots 7%
Others mentioned free guide books and the telephone
Fairs/expos 32%
Workshops 24%
Other 12%
Internet 11%
Other press 3%

Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
Acpet 9%
English Australia 64%

Capls 64%
CLC 64%

Souffle 18%
L'Office 0%
Unosel 0%
FLE 0%

MEI 64%

Asils 0%
Italian in Italy 18%

Feltom 9%

New Zealand
Appel 18%
Crels 27%
Education NZ 36%
English NZ 45%

Aeple 9%

Fedele 9%

ABLS 36%
English UK 73%
British Council 100%

Eaquals 36%

Accet 64%
CEA 55%

Ialc 45%

Market growth
A positive growth rate of 7.5 per cent was recorded across the 11 Korean agencies that took part in our survey, which is an improvement on the negative growth rate recorded in our previous Korean survey (see Language Travel Magazine, September 2004, pages 12-13). However, two individual agencies reported falling sales and three reported static numbers, citing the economy, competition and direct bookings as the reasons behind any negative business performances. The overall picture was still of a rather slow market, although one agency mentioned a growth rate of 40 per cent. Many agents felt that college-age students keen to improve language skills prior to graduation would drive future growth.

Language and destination trends
Many of the trends recorded in our survey last year are unchanged, with the USA remaining the preferred study destination among Korean agency clients, followed by the UK, Canada and Australia. Japan increased its market share, and six per cent of Koreans were studying Japanese last year, with a majority 91 per cent interested in English. An interesting trend noted by two agencies was the growing popularity of the Philippines as an alternative study destination for English language learning.

Student and course trends
The market share of bookings for the 19-to-24 year old age range expanded from 36 per cent to 48 per cent this year, and further studies overseas remained the core reason for learning a language. Although academic and exam preparation programmes and university foundation courses were all significant, general and intensive courses were still the most requested programmes. The average length of stay, at 21 weeks, also indicates the serious learning intentions of Korean students. However, like last year, junior programmes were also high up the list of most requested courses.

Agency business
Similar to last year, agencies indicated that their website was the most important source of new business for them, responsible for an overall 46 per cent of students, followed by word-of-mouth recommendation. Two agencies noted that advertising in guide books was also a useful tool. In terms of finding schools to work with, attending fairs and expos was the first resource, while workshops and Language Travel Magazine were the next most common sources. Agents typically represented a wide range of schools and many had significantly expanded their portfolio of schools in the last five years. A typical number of institutions represented was 380!

Looking ahead
Despite the restrained economic outlook (see above) many of the agencies canvassed seemed to feel that business would continue to pick up slowly this year and into 2006. Two agencies indicated that they expected more demand from the teenage sector of the market, in one case, as a result of targeted promotion activities.

Economic overview

South Korea's economy grew by 2.7% in the first quarter of 2005 compared with the same quarter in the previous year - a seasonally adjusted rate of 0.4% growth, the slowest rate for two years.

The Ministry of Finance and Economy has estimated economic growth of 5% this year, although the IMF and the Bank of Korea is predicting a more subdued increase of 4%.

To help revive spending, the government reduced sales and income taxes last year. However, in April, the unemployment rate rose to its highest rate in four years. Household spending has also declined in the past two years.

Source: IHT, Korea Times, Bloomberg.com.

Korean agents named a range of language programmes they work with, including, in Australia: Holmes College, Sydney, NSW; Pacific Gateway International College, Brisbane, QLD. In Canada: Global Community College (GCC), Calgary, AB; Global Village, Vancouver, BC; International Language Academy of Canada (Ilac), Toronto, ONT; King George International College, Vancouver, BC; KTC Language Institute Vancouver, BC; Language Studies Canada, various; Pacific Language Institute, various. In Ireland: Aspect ILA, Dublin; Emerald Cultural Institute, Dublin. In New Zealand: Dominion English School, Auckland. In the UK: Bosworth Independent College, Northampton; Hampstead School of English, London; Hilderstone College, Broadstairs, Kent; International House, London; St Giles International, various. In the USA: ALCC, New York, NY; EF, various; ELS Language Centers, various; FLS International, Los Angeles, CA; Lakeland College, Lakeland, WI; Massanutten Military Academy, Woodstock, VA; The Language Company, Oklahoma City, OK; University of California Extension Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; University of Findlay, Findlay, OH.

Worldwide: Kaplan, Embassy CES, Eurocentres.

Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in our survey: CS Overseas Study Center; Han Shin Consulting; IES UK Ltd (UKUhak.com); Inesta; IVY Overseas Study Center; KAMC; New York Study Abroad Academy; Overseas Education & Culture Center of Korea; Uhak.com; UKR Institute; World Overseas Educaton Center.

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