|The total number of students placed by the eight agencies in our survey was 5,695
Individual agencies placed between 10 and 5,000 students on courses per year
The average length of stay for Japanese students was 18 weeks
Overall, 60 per cent of Japanese students preferred host family accommodation when studying overseas
A higher percentage of advisor clients were studying abroad for further studies overseas, namely 33 per cent
Language learning is the most lucrative sector of the study abroad market for Japanese agents
||Most popular courses
|1. Canada 31%
2. USA 28%
3. Australia 17%
4. UK 12%
5. New Zealand 5%
6. France 1%
6. Germany 1%
6. Ireland 1%
6. Italy 1%
6. Spain 1%
||1. Intensive 39%
2. General 38%
3. Summer vacation 4%
3. Under/post graduate 4%
3. University foundation 4%
5. Business 3%
5. Lang plus work exp 3%
7. Academic/exam prep 2%
8. Junior 2%
|Reasons for studying overseas
||Average percentage agency business
|1. Further studies overseas 33%
2. Further studies at home 26%
3. Future work 24%
4. Pleasure 10%
5. Current work 6%
||1. Language programmes 78%
2. Work & travel 7%
2. Higher education 7%
3. Secondary education abroad 5%
4. Internships 3%
|How do agents recruit students?
||How do advisors find new schools to represent?
|1. Website 50%
2. Word-of-mouth 19%
3. E/online marketing 8.5%
4. Advertising press 5%
5. Seminars to students 3.5%
4. Mail shots 1%
|| 1. B2B conferences
2. Internet 29%
3. Language fairs and student expos 12%
4. STM 1.5%
5. Other press 1.5%
|Percentage of advisors who recognised each of the following organisations
English Australia 71%
Languages Canada 57%
Groupement FLE 14%
Italian in Italy 14%
Eng NZ 71%
British Council 100%
English UK 86%
World Organisation 29%
Quality English 71%
When we last analysed the Japanese agent market, future business forecasts were somewhat subdued (see STM July 2011, pages 34-35). However, despite the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, Japan’s economy started to show signs of recovery. With domestic and government spending driving the market forward, further expansion is expected (see economic overview). Indeed, according to five of the eight surveyed agencies in this month’s Agency Survey, student weeks grew from between five and 50 per cent last year, with one agency reporting stable business. Only one advisor recorded a business downturn of 15 per cent. Overall, average market growth stood at 14.3 per cent, compared with 20 per cent a year earlier.
Language and destination trends
While the vast majority of Japanese students requested English-taught programmes this year up 1.5 percentage points on the previous year to 94.5 per cent French, Italian, Spanish, German and Chinese programmes were also in demand. A marked change is the table of preferred destinations this year. The top five destinations requested by agent clientele have all been English-speaking, with Canada moving into first place with a 31 per cent share of the Japanese student market. Australia, the top choice with 39 per cent last year, polled third with 17 per cent.
Student and course trends
This month’s survey indicated that the intention of many students to take a study trip abroad was with further study overseas in mind (up seven percentage points). The next most popular reason was for continued study back home in Japan (26 per cent compared with 18 per cent previously). In terms of programme type, Japanese clients showed an increased preference for intensive language study (39 per cent, compared with 24 per cent). General language programmes were also popular (38 per cent). University foundation and under- or postgraduate degree courses were both requested by four per cent of students.
On average, Japanese advisors reported that they currently worked with 128 schools in approximately nine countries but had actively recruited on behalf of 78 school partners in the last 12 months. Agents preferred to meet face-to-face with prospective business partners at agent conferences if looking for new school partners (39 per cent). Alternatively, they performed Internet searches on parties they were interested in working with (29 per cent). Similarly, student clients found their agency via their company website (50 per cent). The language travel sector accounted for an increasing majority of all advisor business (78 per cent, compared with 66 per cent previously). The next most important sectors of agency business were higher education and work & travel (each with a seven per cent share). Two smaller agencies specialised in high school provision.
Japanese agencies are understandably cautious with their business forecasts, given the economic outlook. Despite this, several agencies hoped business would increase over the next 12 months, with one looking to increase their presence in the secondary school sector. Another acknowledged that more clients were requesting language courses incorporating some work experience.
• According to preliminary data from the Cabinet Office, the world’s third-largest economy grew by one per cent in the first quarter (January-to-March), slightly more than originally forecast, and in contrast to the flat rate performance in the final quarter of 2011.
• The Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy, Motohisa Furukawa, said the economy was likely to see further expansion in April-to-June, but warned of global headwinds. “Our country’s economy is continuing its upward movement. We need to be mindful of risk factors such as the re-intensification in Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.”
• While Japan’s economy appeared to bounce back in the first quarter of 2012, analysts have warned this rate of expansion cannot be sustained with boosts to consumption and investment expected to fade.
• Climbing four per cent against the dollar since mid-March, the strong yen is also cause for concern for exporters.
Sources: The Financial Times; The Telegraph
Japanese agents named a range of programmes they work with, including, in Australia: Navitas, various. In Canada: Burnaby School District, Burnaby, BC; International Language Academy of Canada (Ilac), various; Vancouver English Centre, Vancouver, BC. In South Africa: Cape Studies, Cape Town. In the UK: ETC International, Bournemouth; Leeds English Language School, Leeds. In the USA: Bellevue College, Bellevue, WA; Intrax, various. International: EC; ELS; ILSC Education Group; Kaplan International Colleges (KIC); Language Studies International.
Thank you to the following agency centres for taking part in this survey:
Friendship Study Center and Friendship International; Access International; Ryugakusite.com; Be Ryugaku; International Education Consultants; I.C Nagoya; Little Europe; Ryugaku Journal.