||With continued demand for overseas postgraduate education, the Thai language travel market looks set to continue following its growth curve.
|The total number of students placed by the 13 agencies in our survey was 2,015
Individual agencies placed between 65 and 300 students on language courses per year
Average growth of combined agency business in 2002 was 19 per cent
Average length of stay for Thai students was 11.4 weeks
Commission rates ranged from 15 to 25 per cent, averaging out at 18 per cent
70 per cent of Thai students stayed with host families
The average spend on tuition and accommodation was US$287 per week
The number of countries represented by the agencies ranged from one to seven
||Most popular courses
New Zealand 8%
Academic prep. 27%
Summer vac. 4%
Language plus work 1%
|Reasons for language travel
||Age range of clients
|Studies overseas 85%
Current work 7%
Studies at home 1%
||How do agencies find new schools to represent?
|Host families 70%
Private apartment 7%
Other press 2%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
Education NZ 30%
British Council 100%
Seventy-five per cent of our Thai agent respondents reported a growth in student numbers of between 10 and 60 per cent during 2002, while 25 per cent said numbers had stagnated. Of those agents who reported growth in 2002, one said the favourable economic environment had helped boost the market. However, another agent, who had experienced a 10 per cent increase in student numbers, believed that their growth rate had been hampered by difficulties in getting visas.
The Thai language travel market is largely dependent on students requiring language preparation prior to starting their postgraduate studies overseas. In all, 85 per cent of students took a language programme for their studies overseas, while only one per cent learnt a language overseas for their further studies at home. The fact that the Thai language travel market is a graduate market also influenced the age range of agency clients, with 59 per cent of students aged between 19 and 24, and 23 per cent aged from 25 to 30. Surprisingly, a majority of students - 41 per cent - took intensive language programmes (25 hours-plus of tuition per week), with only 27 per cent choosing academic preparation programmes. The relatively low demand for specific academic preparation programmes may be because of the premium price often associated with these courses.
Language and destination trends
English was the most popular language in the Thai market, accounting for 97 per cent of agency bookings. Other languages mentioned included French, German and Japanese. As a consequence of the rather limited demand for other languages, most agencies represented a relatively small number of countries, from one to seven, which for most included only the major English-speaking destinations. Australia was the top choice in the Thai market. One agent suggested this was because of its cost advantage over the USA and UK.
Many students already had a fixed idea of where they wanted to pursue their futher studies, and, therefore, where they wanted to take their language course prior to their studies. Agents estimated that, prior to consultation, 77 per cent of students had a clear idea of the country, 54 per cent had a town or city in mind, and 18 per cent knew the name of the school they wanted to attend. After consultation with an agent, 14 per cent typically changed their choice of country, 24 per cent switched their chosen city and 36 per cent changed schools.
Forecast for 2003
All those agents who commented on the forecast for next year predicted growth in the market, and one agent also forecast greater interest in other languages, particularly Chinese and other European languages, owing to growing interest in further academic study in less expensive destinations .
Thailand, like the rest of Southeast Asia, is still trying to recover after the economic crisis in 1997. Many had felt that Thailand was recovering too slowly, but healthy signs of recovery were evident in 2002 with the September 11, 2001 attacks on the USA having less of a severe impact on the Thai economy than previously expected.
Thailand's overall industrial index rose to 153.8 points in the first quarter of 2002, up from 145.8 points last year. This reflects a gradual recovery in the domestic economy.
By the middle of 2002, analysts were forecasting that Thailand's economy would exceed the predicted GDP growth of between two and three per cent.
Source: Bangkok Post
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in our survey: Adanac Education Centre, Eduworld, Elite International, International Education Promotions, King's Education Services, Mentor International, Overseas Education Center, Professional InterEducation, SELT Education Link (Thailand), SOS International Education, Study Overseas Centre, Thai International Education, Trendsetters
Thai agents named a range of language programmes they work with, including, in Australia: Australian Centre for Languages, Sydney; Australian National University, Melbourne; Deakin University, Melbourne; East Coast College of English, Brisbane; Geos International College, Melbourne; Griffith University, Brisbane; Holmes Colleges, various; Insearch, Sydney; RMIT, Melbourne; Sydney College of English, Sydney; University of Western Australia, Perth. In Canada: King's Canada School of English, Victoria, BC. In New Zealand: Auckland University of Technology, Auckland; Christchurch College of English Language, Christchurch; Seafield School of English, Christchurch; Taupo Language & Outdoor Education Centre, Taupo; University of Waikato, Hamilton. In the UK: King's School of English Oxford, Oxford; St Giles, various. In the USA: University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA; ELS Language Centers, various; Kaplan, various. Worldwide: Aspect; Embassy CES.