Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. How do your partner schools help you to appeal to more cost conscious students in the current economic climate?
Mustafa Ozer, Global Training, Education and Consultancy, UK
“Most of the schools we are working with offer our students special discounts. These help our students to make their decision when they are looking for a place to study. This summer we guided our students to those schools where they got special offers or discounts. As a company, if the school doesn’t give any discount we usually give discount to our students from our commissions to help them financially. I think schools could do more as we are all having difficulties in the current economic climate.”
Kath Bateman, Caledonia Languages, UK
“We often offer discounts for popular courses at off-peak times of the year in order to generate more enquiries/bookings and if we have a student who is keen on a longer term course, we would certainly consider giving them a discount on their fees as this often makes the difference between a confirmed booking with a reduced margin or nothing at all. Many of our partner schools have held their fees for the last two years so this helps us to keep costs low for our clients. Value for money does not necessarily mean cheap everyone wants to feel that they are paying a fair price for a professional course.”
Flavio Crusoe, Director, Bex Brazilian Exchange, Brazil
“Most of our partner schools are aware of the Brazilian market and they always try to make special promotional packages and discounts. Brazilian students are a very challenging consumer, as they want a high quality service, but with a low cost budget. The schools that are aware of that and willing to offer special discounts and packages, are the ones that are getting increases in numbers. Brazillians love to have the feeling that they are enrolled in a good institution with a discounted price.”
Brunella Belluomini, Managing Director, Language Data Bank, Italy
“We very often receive announcements of special offers and discounts for certain kind of courses and periods. Sometimes it may happen that the discount offered to the agents is lower than the discount shown in the schools’ websites, offered to those who will book directly, and this affects the agents’ work. Serious schools however, who are conscious of the work agents do on their behalf, promoting and guaranteeing their services, do offer incentives to agents, for example a reduced enrolment and accommodation finding fee, or an extra discount or some weeks free. A loyal business relationship between schools and agents will not fail. Our students are prepared to save money in other services (low cost flight, more basic accommodation) and pay the value for money of a good school.”
Meredith Butler, Language Link, USA
“We have some schools that offer a low season discount to attract students. Also, some schools are reducing their registration fees to attract students. The most interesting approach has come from the Spanish Language Institute in Cuernavaca, Mexico. They are offering a ‘Day of the Dead’ week to celebrate the holiday and offer students a chance to experience the Day of the Dead culture along with less hours of instruction per day.Some schools have been trying to include free excursions and cultural exchanges.”
On the move
David Matthews has been elected as the new Chair of English Australia (EA), the national association for English language schools in Australia. Mr Matthews is currently the Director of Curtin English Language Centre in Perth. He looks forward to driving the strategic goals of the association and promoting the EA brand and its reputation for quality language training in the country.
Marina Martins and Daniel Amgarten have started a new inbound agency in Brazil named Campus Brasil. Ms Martins used to work for internStudy/idid in the UK and Mr Amgarten was working for Upward in Brazil when they decided it was time to develop the Brazilian inbound market. They specialise in teaching internships and study tours for universities.
Mr Daiji Sato has joined Browns English Language School in Australia as the School Principal of the Brisbane and Gold Coast Campus. Mr Sato will oversee Accounting and Administrative operations and provide leadership in the implementation of robust and efficient systems. He will also focus on strategic initiatives to further strengthen the Browns brand identity and on expansion.
Shirley Huang has become the new Agent Relationship Manager at Education New Zealand. Ms Huang has worked in the international division of the University of Waikato for the past eight years, recruiting students from North Asia and some South East Asian countries. She has extensive experience in dealing with agents and organising familiarisation visits for delegates visiting the university.
Wilma Jamieson has been selected as the new Head at Queen Margaret’s School in Duncan, BC, Canada following the retirement of Mrs Pat Rowantree. In a message to students, parents, faculty and staff, she said, “As a great believer in the necessity of change for personal growth, I am very pleased to be making a change in my educational career and joining your school community.”
Rachel Kip takes her five years of experience in New York, USA, as the Director of International Admissions and Student Services for Rennert International to the warm shores of Miami Beach. Ms Kip will open Rennert South Beach (Rennert SoBe) and will oversee school operations as Director.
ETS to launch junior version of Toefl test
The Educational Testing Service has launched a new version of the popular Toefl test aimed at those aged between 12 and 15 years. The test is first being launched in Korea under the management of an education learning company called Profile 21.
Toefl Junior has been developed to measure the degree to which younger students have attained the language proficiency representative of English-medium instructional environments and measures reading and listening ability, as well as knowledge of language form and medium. The first exam was administered at the end of October and there are already plans to develop the test into a computer-based version that will include assessment of speaking and writing skills.
Dr Philip Tabbiner, President of ETS Global, said, “Students, teachers, administrators and parents around the world can depend on Toefl Junior for objective information about language skills. Students in 16 countries, including Korea, participated in Toefl Junior pilot testing earlier this year. We are launching this in Korea first because it leads the world in language learning. We will introduce this global assessment in other countries soon, including Japan, China, Vietnam, Brazil and others throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East.”
It is hoped that the exam will be used to assess the English ability of those wanting to study in English medium secondary schools. Tabbiner added, “Toefl Junior will support placement decisions after admission to public and private schools in English-dominant countries, international schools in non-English-dominant countries or schools in any country using bilingual approaches to instruction.”
Ji Taek Lim, CEO of Profile 21 the organisation responsible for managing test administration and business operations, said, “We believe there is a real need for such an exam to assist young Korean students studying English. We believe that Toefl Junior eventually will be a significant contributor in guiding Korean juniors to develop their own academic career and English capacity in line with a true global standard.”
Projects Abroad launches online forum
International volunteering company, Projects Abroad, has launched an online journalism magazine called Voices of the World for budding journalists to exchange opinions and ideas with other volunteers and local residents.
In order to recruit aspiring journalists, Projects Abroad’s 14 offices in Romania, Ghana, India, Bolivia, China, South Africa, Senegal, Mexico, Mongolia, Moldova, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Costa Rica will create local journalism clubs to accept local students who show an aptitude and interest for writing.
Peter Slowe, Director and Founder of Projects Abroad, said, “Under the supervision of a Projects Abroad representative in each destination, and with the help and participation of the Projects Abroad journalism volunteers, students will be encouraged and empowered to discuss topics with their counterparts in other countries and to research, interview and finally write about those topics chosen.” The best articles will then be published in the online magazine.
Projects Abroad currently sends 7,000 volunteers from 40 countries overseas to work in projects including teaching, conservation, medicine, law, human rights and journalism in 14 destinations.
British Council launches free online lessons
The British Council, in partnership with online education provider Alison, has launched a revised suite of free online lessons for pre-intermediate and upper-intermediate language students.
The online content includes 400 hours of lessons that are self-paced and the learner gains a Certificate of Completion. The lessons include preparation for the First Certificate Exam in English and other popular exams.
iPhone app for written English launched
Technology services company Extentia has joined forces with an English language teacher in Canada to develop iExpert English, the first application for the iPhone and the iPad that offers comprehensive guidance in writing in English.
The iExpert English application is designed for assistance with English language tests such as Toefl and Ielts, essays, writing assignments and all written communication. Farhad Desai, Founder of Expert English Teacher (EET), which is providing the content for the application, has taught English in Canada for 15 years and publishes essays and articles on learning English in magazines and websites around the world. He is also the author of Toefl Writing Secrets The Serious Student’s Guide to Writing Essays.
Umeed Kothavala, CEO of Extentia, said, “We’re excited to work with Farhad Desai and EET to introduce this innovative application on iTunes. Expert English Teacher has a following in Canada and internationally and now it’s available to a wider audience on mobile. This iPad/iPhone application is a useful, easy-to-use English language aid and there are many positive reviews already.”
This month we talk to Teresa O’Donnell, Executive Director of accrediting agency, Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA), about how accreditation criteria has been revised.
Full name: Commission on English Language Program Accreditation
Year established: 1999
Number of members: 90
Type of members: Accredited English language programmes and language schools
Complaints procedure: In the CEA Policies and Procedures
Agent workshops/fam trips: n/a
Association’s main role: Accreditation
Government recognition: Recognised by the US Department of Education
Code of practice: yes
Teresa D. O’Donnell
801 North Fairfax Street, Suite 402 A.
Alexandria, VA, 22314, USA
Tel: +1 7035192070
Fax: +1 7035192071
What has your association been up recently?
Many programmes have sought initial and re-accreditation, with 90 now having received accreditation. A primary project this year has been to move from a paper-based to an online submission of the self-study report, which we hope will be more efficient for sites seeking accreditation. This move prompted a revision of the CEA Standards for English Language Programs and Institutions. While the intent of each of the 52 standards has been maintained, the individual standards and the context and discussions in the document have been revised to provide clarity and conciseness, to bring them up-to-date, and to remove redundancy. The revisions of the CEA website will also now allow for more resources and training materials to be made available in relation to the standards and accreditation procedures.
Do you think more language schools in the USA are realising the value of being accredited?
As the numbers of accredited programmes and language institutions grow, more and more professionals in the field are acknowledging the value of accreditation to their programmes and to the students they serve. This is evidenced by CEA’s growing numbers. Currently, there are 90 accredited sites, with 50 in the process of seeking accreditation. These numbers increase steadily. The interest is not only in the USA but also internationally. Four international sites are accredited and 15 others are currently in process in countries such as Qatar, Turkey, Colombia, Saudi Arabia and Mongolia.
How do you promote your accreditation activities to potential members, students and agents?
The CEA website is the primary avenue through which CEA promotes accreditation activities and also promotes accredited programmes and language schools, all of which are listed on the website. In addition, CEA sends out news to other associations, such as AAIEP and UCIEP, and also to overseas advisors at US embassies and to agents.
What is your view on the linking of student visas with accreditation?
AAIEP has written legislation to the US Congress to promote linking of student visas with accreditation. At this time, the legislation is moving forward, and it will prompt a lot of discussion, both positive and negative. As an accrediting agency, CEA promotes standards and provides a means to ensure that programmes and schools follow good practice. This doesn’t mean that there are not good schools that are not accredited. However, it is also true that there are many questionable schools in terms of meeting students’ educational needs.
• The UK’s coalition government has said it is committed to plans for a new high-speed rail network, linking the UK capital with Heathrow Airport among other routes. It was feared the project, which was originally proposed by the previous administration, could fall foul of coalition spending cuts. However, according to Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, consultation will resume in 2011.
• Germany’s Hamburg Airport has commenced a six-month trial of the controversial, full-body scanner. The scanners have so far managed to split opinion among passengers and campaigners who deem them a violation of privacy. However, Germany’s Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere, dispelled myths that the scanners would create an actual image of the body. “They produce a stick-figure, which doesn’t allow the viewer to determine the passengers body measurements or physique,” he said.
• Flag carrier, Singapore Airlines (SIA), has announced its intention to expand into the South American market in 2011. A thrice-weekly service from SIA’s Singapore hub to São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport, via Barcelona in Spain, has been earmarked for March 2011. “We are pleased to be able to add a sixth continent to our route network and be the only airline offering direct flights between Southeast Asia and Brazil,” said SIA’s Senior Executive Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Services, Bey Soo Khiang. The airline offers 93 destinations in 38 countries.
• Competition for lucrative flight routes has prevented Australian carrier, Qantas, from striking up an alliance with Etihad Airways. Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, noted that research had shown that Middle Eastern carriers were competing with Asian airliners in what can only be described as a ‘hub war’. “The Middle Eastern carriers are taking share from Singapore Airlines, Malaysian and Thai Airways and there’s a battle of the hubs happening,” said Joyce. Conversely, airline rival Virgin Blue has received interim approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to form an alliance with the Middle Eastern carrier. The joint venture will enable the two airlines to cooperate on joint pricing and scheduling of services across their networks.
• British Airways has announced that it intends to open up the domestic Japanese market to UK travellers by launching flights to Haneda in Japan. The service will commence five times a week from February next year and will give leisure travellers excellent links to Japan’s domestic network. The carrier also plans to add new direct flights to Buenos Aires in Argentina, rather than via São Paulo, and is upping the amount of services to the Caribbean from its Gatwick hub. Meanwhile, flights to Cancun in Mexico, launched just last month, will grow from two-to-three times a week, while the Gatwick to Tampa, Florida route will increase from five to seven flights a week.
• Kazakh carrier, Air Astana, are working with the British travel trade to harness the UK tourism market. Prithi Shukla, Sales and Marketing Executive from the airline, said that as well as business travellers, the capital was looking to attract leisure tourists in search of adventure. “A lot of people are looking for adventure which Kazakhstan can offer,” she said. “Young people in particular are drawn to the country for its trekking, moutaineering, bird watching activities and silk road tours.” The carrier is currently offering fam trips for relevant agents and operators that aim to promote the country as an alterntaive leisure destination.
• Turkish budget carrier, Atlasjet, is investing US$110 million to form a new company that will enable it to enter the Russian aviation market. Partnering with the Omsk regional government and construction firm Mostovik, the carrier intends to develop a new passenger airline as well as modernise the Omsk-Fedorovka International Airport in the Russian city of Omsk. Atlasjet said the new airline aims to start operations in May 2011, while renovation works to the airport will be complete by 2013. Turkish Airlines has also shown an interest in the Russian market and has opted to open an Ankara-Moscow route through airline subsidary, Anadolu Jet.
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