|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).