Contents - December 2008

Special Report
Looking back on 2008
Development in the industry has been alternately helped and hindered by global economics and government policy over the last 12 months. The year 2008 was one of innovation, growth and diversifying resources for the language travel industry. Bethan Norris takes a look at some of the key developments over the past year and surmises what effect these will have in the years to come.

Market Report
Tight belts in Ireland
Continued high costs in Ireland signal a difficult time ahead, with Irish schools competing hard against other European destinations offering English language training. Amy Baker reports.

Western Australia
Covering over two million square kilometres, the gargantuan state of Western Australia offers some truly theatrical landscapes and is the gateway to an authentically Australian lifestyle. Nicola Hancox explores.


Winners and losers

By the time you read this, the initial frenzy of media coverage about the global banking crisis should (hopefully) have calmed down, but I am certain that the reality of the situation will still be rather grim for many. One statistic that I read was that the average American has 11 credit cards – and it’s certainly not a great time to be burdened with debt.

Although the international education industry has, in general, prospered for a good few years, undoubtedly, there will be some fallout from the current financial crisis that spans many countries. In this issue, we report on the situation in Thailand, where agencies report a declining business growth rate and uncertainty over demand in the near future, because of economic concerns .

And we read about Ireland, where a high cost of living and the strength of the euro – as well as difficult immigration conditions for some countries – is stifling language schools’ ability to build business.

Of course, a difficult operating environment doesn’t necessarily spell disaster – just lacklustre growth and margins being squeezed, possibly. But new trends are likely to emerge because of the current financial instability in many countries. Students may postpone their travel plans or they may also consider new study destinations or a variation to their planned programme of study. There will be some winners and losers.

For example, a “cheaper” destination such as South Africa or the Philippines may gain market share in the English language teaching domain. Alternatively, more students may decide to work part-time while overseas to supplement their income while studying, in which case, Australia or the UK might rise in popularity.

A working holiday visa allows nationals of certain countries, aged from 18 to 30, to spend up to a year in a reciprocal country, working and studying, and this type of programme might be in greater demand. Every year, there are more and more countries signing up to the scheme, and we talk to operators involved in this sector.

Perhaps students will become ever more demanding about the outcome they expect from their language study experience abroad. For example, they might be definite about wanting to mix with locals while learning English overseas. If this is the case, we have a guide in this issue to a range of such programmes in the UK. Agencies that are able to adapt to fluctuating market conditions and work globally should be able to weather any storm.

Winners and losers

New pro-agent group
AIRC, formed in the USA
Canada launches education brand
WYSTC in New York
NZ language school goes ‘green’,
Enterprise Ireland excludes language schools
Korean children face re-entry exams after studying abroad

Agency News
Gateway 21 in Japan folds with massive debts
MEI-Relsa holds agent fam trip after StudyWorld
In memoriam: Frederic Gonzalez

Agency Survey
Thailand persistent
Political uncertainty and an unstable economy have affected the outgoing student market in Thailand negatively. The majority of agents in our Agency survey on Thailand reported a drop in demand for overseas programmes while China is gaining stature as a study destination.

The absence of Chinese students was a noticeable finding in this year’s Feedback survey on Canada, although the top three nationalities of Korean, Japanese and Mexican remained the same. Agent usage was also high among students.

French in Belgium
Learning French in Belgium is not a mainstream choice, with the result that there are relatively few options for language learners in the country. This means, however, that students will be able to immerse themselves in a unique country that offers them an authentic and quirky language context.

Course Guide
English plus native speakers
Interacting with native speakers provides international students with some great cultural insights and ideals; it also enables them to practise their communication skills outside of the classroom. With many language providers now inviting local children and/or adults to participate in organised group activities, overseas students now have ample opportunity to better their language skills and familiarise themselves with informal English while enjoying themselves and making friends.

Italy 2007
The Status survey is a venture by Language Travel Magazine that aims to gather specific market data about all of the main language teaching markets in the world. Through our initiative, it is now possible to compare world market statistics.