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.