Q&A Agent association
This month we interview Julia Richter, Managing Director, of FDSV in Germany.
Full name of association:
Fachverband Deutscher Sprachreise-Veranstalter e.V.
Year established: 1977
Number of members: 22
T: +49 15208425222
What has been the main focus of FDSV in the last 12 months?
In 2012 I joined FDSV as Managing Director. We have attended Expolingua as well as several “SchülerAustausch-Messen”/Fairs. We have achieved that the Sprachreise Norm DIN EN 14804 [a type of standardisation] is recognised for Bildungsurlaub [a type of study leave] in Nordrhein-Westfalen. We have the results of the 2012 language travel market research, which we have realised together with the University of Heilbronn.
Last year FDSV started an initiative to gain new members — has this been rolled out?
In 2012 we welcomed ESL Sprachreisen as a new member. For this year we currently have two more members in the pipeline.
How do you ensure standards are maintained among FDSV member agencies?
We have strict quality guidelines. These guidelines are regularly checked by our independent FDSV-consulting committee. They also check the brochures and Internet offers of new members as well as regularly spot test our existing members. They currently check language schools from FDSV-partners in South Africa. Other inspection-trips are planned for England, Ireland and France this year.
Have there been any interesting trends in Germany's outbound student market?
English is still the most important language to study. Malta decreased (19.49 per cent) in 2012. Young learners are starting their language trips even younger. English and French language camps in Germany are becoming more and more interesting for juniors.
What does FDSV have planned for the year?
We are planning a cooperation with the “SchülerAustausch-Messen”/Fairs for 2013/2014 with some nice prizes namely times 10 Sprachferien Starter-Kits worth €500. We have launched our new FDSV logo. We will present FDSV at the ICEF Workshop in Berlin on November 3 2013.
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Does your agency have a policy on Corporate Social Responsibility?
Mary Juusela, Educatius International, USA
“In developing areas of the world, education is one of the most effective tools to fight poverty and build a democratic society. Educatius and Explorius International have committed to contribute positive change around the world, by building on what we do best. We sponsor over 1,000 impoverished students in Tanzania, the Gambia, Ecuador and Brazil. Our ‘one-to-one’ model, via our non-profit foundation AiDucatius established in 2009 ensures that for each exchange student who chooses to do their exchange with us, a deserving student in an impoverished region is granted tuition and examination fees for a full academic year. In addition, we provide supplies that we often take for granted paper, pens, etc to support entire school communities.”
Krister Weidenhielm, ESL, Switzerland
“The topic of CSR is one of great interest to ESL. In 2008 we redefined our company objectives in terms of sustainable development and launched our own CSR action plan. From there I started a project in 2010 which is an online CSR self-assessment tool specially set up for language schools. It is a questionnaire that also represents an action plan. The goal is to share our own experience at ESL with schools, offering them technical support and guidance to kick off a formal CSR policy. Our CSR self-assessment tool currently has 70 active users and some 150 schools have opened an account. The ones who are actively promoting CSR are listed on our website, giving an additional promotional angle for schools.”
Priscilla Kabakian, CI, Brazil
““CI is a member of Braztoa’s Sustainability Committee which is in charge of creating and organising sustainability requirements for Brazilian tour operators. Last year, this committee promoted an award and CI won one of the prizes for our e-learning system called Academia CI. E-learning systems are well-known for their cost/benefits. Academia CI has issued over 20,000 certificates to our employees nationwide since 2007. We estimate that we have preserved 25 eucalyptus trees and avoided 70 tonnes of CO2 emissions during the same period. We do encourage our employees to be involved in charity activities. Also, we are encouraging our suppliers chain to let us know what they are doing on this matter so we can improve our business relationship. As a real example, we can mention Ilac in Canada, St Giles International and Alitalia Air.”
Julia Steiner, Agence Julia Steiner, Switzerland
“We have incorporated CSR in the form of ‘giving something back’ to orphans in Kenya and created a legal association in Switzerland: Amis de Heart Children’s Home (Friends of Heart Children’s Home) in Malindi Kenya. In 2008, I discovered seven small children sleeping on two old mattresses on a concrete floor in the slums of Malindi. They were being looked after by a Kenyan lady, Mama Nuru. There are now 30 children and they are currently renting a brick-built house. Education is vital. It is the only way out of the vicious circle of poverty for these kids. AJS already has some school partners who regularly donate to Heart and we are actively searching for more aid. In addition, Heart has a project to build a new orphanage instead of renting: ‘Buy a Brick’. If you would be interested in supporting a really worthwhile charity and giving something back, please do contact us!”
Agency of the month
In a series appearing each month in Study Travel Magazine, we ask a different teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or advisor partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.
This month East-West Connection Study in China Programs in China nominates LanguageCourse.net in Spain. Wendy Zhang at the school, explains this decision.
““We are a Chinese school in Beijing running for almost eight years. After the Olympics, Chinese schools have been growing like bamboo after rain, quickly and in great numbers. This has made this industry more competitive and quality becomes a big issue. With so much information accessible these days, students require more and more proof of company validity. To study abroad, especially in China which can be like another world, it is popular and even necessary to hire an agent. A third party helps a lot in this business including helping customers to feel safe. We have no complaints and feel honoured to work with LanguageCourse.net. They clearly inform new students of programme details and make our work easy.”
“What stands out about Wendy and East-West Connection is their can-do attitude. They are true partners in the sense that they understand our common objectives, and make every effort to find solutions. Each booking feels like a job well done.” Natalia Blázquez Sanz, LanguageCourse.net, Spain