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Contents - December 2009


Special report
The year in review
Almost no company was spared the disorienting winds of change in 2009 – economic uncertainty and fears of another health pandemic affected outbound and inbound markets. Meanwhile, there continued to be a focus on quality services for both educators and agencies, web-based ventures popped up everywhere, and a mood of resilience reigned. Amy Baker reports.


Market Report
Ireland’s high costs
While high business costs in Ireland and the global economic downturn have contributed to a difficult 2009 for the English language teaching industry in Ireland, schools are looking at ways to ensure quality and choice whilst keeping costs low in 2010. Gillian Evans reports.




Regional Focus
Queensland’s adventure
Home to the Great Barrier Reef, world class surf beaches, vast rainforests and the wild Australian outback, Queensland offers students an adventure playground in which to live and learn the English language. Gillian Evans reports.


Time to listen

In a student-centred business such as language travel, it is vital to take into account a student’s needs and wishes – this of course is what most language schools will do, asking their clients for feedback when they leave and relying on strong agency partnerships to report on client satisfaction levels too, because sometimes agencies might receive more truthful or honest reports than schools do.

Nevertheless, in a well-oiled teaching operation involving multiple programmes, teaching times, age groups and activities, it can understandably be difficult to ensure that all appropriate student feedback (not just “I don’t like potatoes”) is filtered through to the right department and considered.

Equally, it is wise for institutions to consider professional opinion about what their students might want or enjoy too. I’m not sure how many students may request e-learning options, for example, but if presented with such availability, they might be happy to trial it. In Ireland, which – as we read throughout this issue – has had a difficult year in terms of business, one school is looking to diversify its product offering to expand its business potential by adding e-learning (page 35).

Wise as it is for schools to remain open to repositioning, countries could also follow this example when overhauling regulations or policy relating to international education. This is indeed what the UK tried to do by liaising with industry representatives on its Joint Education Taskforce prior to rolling out the new visa system this year. As we report, it has still managed to throw up issues of contention (pages 24-27).

Notably, Australia is liaising with industry pending its revamp of the Esos Act through a Review Taskforce that includes Acpet, among others (page 12) and also taking into account the views of students! A broad international students’ roundtable with 31 student delegates led to lots of suggestions, and then three selected students met with ministers to talk further on certain issues (page 7).

I think this is a great exercise and likely to throw up points that might not have been considered – students asked for information centres and travel discounts for example!

Benefit is bound to be gained from taking the time to listen to students’ viewpoints, which is what one agent underlines when explaining how he assesses school partners – eschewing fam trips, he spends time in a school just observing and listening to students (page 9).


Opinion
Time to listen

News
Inaugural Feltom workshop in Malta well received.
Korean students suspected of abusing Canada’s work-study rule.
Australia to invest in building a macro-brand for tourism. WYSTC gets mixed response from language sector. International students deliver communiqué to ministers in Australia.
ICEF’s higher ed event grows in stature

Agency News
Ialc grows new agent partnership scheme
South Africa invites Turkish agencies to visit

Agency Survey
Italy’s UK bias
Growth has been somewhat stilted for the outbound student market in Italy, while the UK won the lion’s share of business in the last 12 months. Meanwhile, short-term study programmes are certainly the preferred choice.

Feedback
Canada Feedback
Chinese student numbers were high among the respondents who took part in this issue’s Feedback Survey of Canada, while the proportion of Western Europeans was down on last year.

Spotlight
EAP in Australia
English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programmes help prepare international students for tertiary study. Focusing on areas such as essay writing and academic vocabulary, they can also provide seamless transition into a degree programme. Nicola Hancox reports on this sector within Australia.

Course Guide
UK junior programmes

Status
Italy 2008
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.



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