Inaugural Feltom workshop in Malta well received
The Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta (Feltom) hosted the country’s first ever ELT industry workshop in September. Organised in collaboration with Language Travel Magazine and sponsored by bodies including the Malta Tourism Authority and Air Malta, the three-day event marked the association’s 20th anniversary.
Over 50 agents from 28 different countries were invited to meet representatives from 27 local language schools 16 of which were affiliated members of Feltom. Delegates were also invited to experience Malta and the neighbouring island of Gozo first-hand on an extensive familiarisation trip.
Naomi Ishihara from Japanese agency, Malta Ryugaku, said the workshop had some good agent representation with a diverse nationality spread. “It was a very international conference. We were able to discuss many points of view from [the perspective of] several different countries,” she noted, adding that she was impressed with what Malta had to offer language learners. “This country is very small but it has so many places to visit. I’m very impressed with Feltom and the potential Malta has.”
The event culminated in a round-table discussion that looked to gather opinion as to the current state of the ELT industry and its future. David Immanuel, CEO of Language Studies International, was the keynote speaker, giving an insight into the challenges he has faced as a language provider in the last 40 years. He was followed by Sue Blundell, Executive Director of English Australia, and Masaru Yamada, President of Felca, who delivered a presentation on the Felca-Gaela Barometer survey (see pages 34-36).
The Maltese government also lent their support to the event. The Hon Lawrence Gonzi, Prime Minister of Malta, opened the forum with a speech that acknowledged just how important the industry is to the Maltese economy. He stated that greater brand promotion was needed and that despite difficulties, opportunity exists for Maltese language schools. “The Maltese government stands fully squared with you,” he told Feltom members present.
Isabelle Pace Warrington, Executive Officer at the association, stated that delegate feedback had been extremely positive and that the association was seriously considering making the conference a regular event. “The feedback we have had from both agents and schools has been very good,” she commented. “Every single respondent to our questionnaires said they would attend similar events in future. Many also encouraged us to consider making this an annual event.”
Korean students suspected of abusing Canada’s work-study rule
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has been alerted to reports that Korean students are abusing the country’s education and work programme.
A Canadian immigration officer based in South Korea reported a dramatic hike in the number of Korean students requesting internships or co-op placements at Canadian institutions (up from 10 per cent in 2007 to more than 40 per cent in the first quarter of 2009). He surmised that students were flouting the federal programme that enables them to work and study in the country by enrolling at a school they never intended to go to. “The tuition fees paid [to] the private language schools effectively become the cost of purchasing a work permit,” said Martin Mundel, Programme Manager at the Canadian Embassy in Seoul. “The value of which has recently increased given the prospect of obtaining work despite the global economic downturn and being able to apply for permanent residence status on the basis of the work experience,” he added.
Education institutions in Canada are not obligated to report international student absences, a point the government has said it will look at during its investigation. CIC was said to be considering taking action against such abuse. In 2008, the Canadian government issued 9,902 work permits under the work-and-study programme.
Australia to invest in building a macro-brand for tourism
The Australian government will soon inject AUS$20 million (US$17.4 million) into developing a new international marketing brand.
The brand awareness project will challenge creative media agencies to better similar campaigns launched by other English-speaking destinations. The taglines “100% Pure” and “Rainbow Nation” have both become synonymous with New Zealand and South Africa and it is hoped Australia’s new global image will be launched in February 2010.
“We need a cohesive brand that captures the essence of Australia and underscores the quality of all that we have to offer in sectors such as trade, investment and education,” said Simon Crean, the Australian Trade Minister.
This brand initiative is in addition to the governments “Study in Australia 2010” strategy aimed at promoting the international education and training sector (see LTM, August 2009, page 7).
WYSTC gets mixed response from language sector
The World Youth Student and Travel Conference (Wystc) took place in Manchester, UK, earlier this year.
The event welcomed 444 organisations from 66 countries, but turnout was down on previous years (739 attendees compared with 890 in 2008). Stephanie Cooper, Communications Officer at WyseTC, acknowledged that “some delegates chose to bring a smaller sales team with them this year”.
The conference saw hostel providers, volunteering and gap year companies, language schools and outbound agencies descend on a lively Manchester (home to 100,000 students) for the 3.5-day conference.
Attendee, David Walker from the Ardmore Group in the UK, said, “Buyers seemed more scarce this year, perhaps due to the ‘less exotic’ location, slightly earlier dates and... difficult trading market.” However, he added, “We had some very good meetings... I found it beneficial.”
Dr Charlie Easmon from Number One Health a company specialising in travel healthcare said that the locale had been ideal: “I loved Manchester and met many interesting people,” he said.
However, other language travel sector delegates were less satisfied. Stefania Di Vittorio from CTS Viaggi in Italy one of the founding members of the Wyse Travel Confederation noted that a greater mix of delegates would be better. “I would like to find a wider variety of delegates from South American, African and Asian countries [next time],” she said.
And Susan Evans, Director of International Sales at Camp Beaumont in the UK, noted, “Manchester, following New York, was always going to be extremely difficult.” She said that given the agent/exhibitor ratio was off kilter, some radical changes were needed next year.
A Wyse Travel Confederation Opening Session, entitled Fast Forward 2010, was led by keynote speaker, Lee Crockett, and well regarded by many delegates. In a speech that advised how to use innovation in business, it was, according to Tony Evans of Languages for Life, UK, “the most thought-provoking [speech] I’ve seen at Wystc in the 15 years I’ve been attending!”
For the first time since 1988, the event organisers, WyseTC, announced that Wystc will return to Beijing, China next year.
International students deliver communiqué to ministers in Australia
Three international students have met with education ministers in Australia to deliver a communiqué about how to improve the country’s international education sector. This follows a roundtable of 31 international students organised in September to discuss the student experience.
Ministers agreed to progess identified measures by providing accurate up-to-date information through an online manual for students; working together to develop models for the delivery of information services; endorsing a credible voice for international students, including arranging ongoing communications between student representatives and government; and engaging with state and local authorities responsible for laws and regulations relating to private accommodation.
This last measure is to prevent exploitation of students placed in unsafe housing.
ICEF’s higher ed event grows in stature
The third annual ICEF Higher Education conference experienced an eight per cent growth in terms of delegate numbers this year, making it the largest event of its kind.
The three-day event which took place in Madrid in September saw representatives from 46 higher education institutions meet 85 agents from 37 countries. Delegate feedback was extremely positive according to conference organisers, with 100 per cent rating the event either excellent or good.
Ewan Mackenzie-Bowie of ICL Business School in New Zealand said, “Last year’s Higher Education Workshop was excellent, but this one was even better. Almost without exception, the agents were serious and genuinely interested in ICL and New Zealand.”
Participants also had the option of attending market intelligence seminars that covered a variety of topical subjects including how to market during a recession. Agent, Sunay Tunca from Dil-Mes Study Abroad Advisory in Turkey said, “All the seminars were very useful for us. I believe our business will be better as a result of the information we received.”
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