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Contents - December 2002


Special Report
2002 - a balancing act
This year has been a difficult year for agents and language schools alike, with economic concerns and a cautiousness among consumers since September 11 negatively affecting bookings. Visa regulations and the need to balance quality provision with price also meant that agencies and schools had to work hard to maintain their market share. Despite this, there are signs that things could improve in 2003. Gillian Evans looks back at the highs and lows of the year.


Direction
Client satisfaction
By interviewing a number of students around the world who booked through an agency, Gillian Evans compiled a picture of 'perfect' agency service. Businesses that have an informative website, personal counselling service and plenty of exact information about a client's chosen school and location were appreciated by students. And satisfied clients mean repeat business and additional bookings for an agency via word-of-mouth recommendation.



City Focus
Paris
Often referred to as the most romantic city in the world, Paris has so much to offer student visitors that they have no problems filling their free time. Many language schools in the city organise extra-curricular activities to introduce students to the city's sights and districts. Highlights include visiting Notre Dame and the Sacré Coeur cathedral, say language school representatives, while in the summer, students enjoy travelling up the Seine in an open-air boat.



Opinion

Changing times
Technological advances and modernisation leads to some industries and services becoming less important over time, as consumers adapt to booking travel products online, for example, or using CDs instead of vinyl when listening to music.

Study abroad consultancy is unlikely to be one of those industries that becomes redundant, as firstly, customers value the quality consultancy and unique insight that agents can offer into study abroad options, and secondly, the drive for improving language skills and obtaining qualifications overseas is not likely to diminish in the foreseeable future.

The dynamics of the industry may certainly change. In Korea, for example, there are efforts to turn the country into an attractive destination for higher education (page 4). Asian countries could rival English-speaking destinations one day in terms of attracting students with academic goals. Chinese students, for example - who are a key student market for international education - may be lured by prospects closer to home.

At the moment, they remain crucial for many language schools in English-speaking destinations, which benefit from their desire for English language tuition followed by higher education overseas. One source representing state sector language tuition in the UK says, 'China is an enormous market, where there is an increasing need and desire for an international education' (page 27).

While agencies can remain assured that they provide a service that is crucial to contemporary life, the nature of the market will clearly continue to evolve. The emphasis on serious language learning has grown year on year, and this was conspicuous during 2002, when financial and safety considerations curtailed some study abroad plans, and, in the cautious post-September 11 climate, study abroad was largely viewed as an investment for the future (pages 20-25).

Thailand is a good example of a market where onward education plans shape demand for language tuition. According to our Agency Survey, 85 per cent of respondents' clients chose to take a language course overseas prior to further academic studies (pages 10-11).

Successful, thriving agencies need to be able to advise about all types of educational placement overseas, as well as meet other student expectations. These include detailed knowledge about a study location, impartial advice, last-minute booking facilities and a constant channel of communication (page 17).

As international business exchange increases, agencies may be able to seek opportunities in the executive environment, if they are not already working in this area. In China, the government is advocating English language fluency among business people (page 4), while in Korea, job seekers have serious concerns about their English language ability (page 4).

There have certainly been hardships in the industry this year, but ongoing global development and exchange means that agents can grasp opportunities next year, although poor economic health remains a stumbling block in some Latin American countries (page 24). Language Travel Magazine will aim, as ever, to encourage professional development opportunities and to keep you informed throughout the year about the latest news and market trends, to enable you to harness business potential.


Opinion
Technological advances and modernisation leads to some industries and services becoming less important over time, as consumers adapt to booking travel products online, for example, or using CDs instead of vinyl when listening to music.

News
English language epidemic in Korea
MEI~Relsa website gets
a facelift
Acquisitions and mergers in the marketplace
Historic enlargement of EU likely to happen
ETS launches English test for business in China

Travel News
More German budget operators
Continental modernises its approach
Taiwan flights dropped
as profits fall

Agency News
Belta celebrates 10th birthday
Refunds - a reader's response

Agency Survey
Thailand's goals
With continued demand for overseas postgraduate education, the Thai language travel market looks set to continue following its growth curve.

Feedback
Ireland Feedback
Ireland's English language student body is becoming increasingly diverse, and agents are more important than ever as a means of student recruitment.

Market Report
State sector benefits
English language teaching institutions in the UK's state teaching sector all seem to be enjoying increases in international student numbers, as they benefit from the trend for further academic study overseas. Amy Baker reports.

Course Guide
Executive German

Language schools in Germany and Austria offer a wide range of German language courses specifically for students learning the language for business purposes.


Profile
Scotland

Scotland was officially united with England and
Wales in 1707 when the Scottish parliament was disbanded and absorbed into the English one.

Status
Status: USA 2001
In our global comparison articles, we provide a breakdown of results from our Status surveys over the past year. In this first article, we look at nationality breakdown for international students across the major language teaching markets in the world.