February 2002 issue

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Open Doors results revealed


*Rates are subject to change and should be used as indications only. 06/01/02 1xUS$ =currency*

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The latest Open Doors report on international student enrolment in the USA, from September 2000 to May 2001, reveals a continuing reliance on the Asian markets of Japan, Korea and Taiwan in the language teaching sector. Close to 50 per cent of all students came from these three countries, according to statistics compiled by the Institute for International Education (IIE) and the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

In the South American markets, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia remained important, accounting for 16.5 per cent of language placements, while Italy, Saudi Arabia and Turkey also featured in the top 10. Switzerland and Germany were notably absent student provider countries this year, while newcomers, Thailand and China, accounted for over two per cent of students each.

Although overall trends revealed by the 2000/2001 report remained consistent, there was an increase of just over 16 per cent in the number of international students enrolling on language programmes, compared with the previous year's figures (see Language Travel Magazine, February 2001 for this report). Across all education sectors, there was a slightly lower increase in numbers recorded of 6.4 per cent. China was revealed to be the most important source country overall for international students, followed by India, Japan and Korea.

"The growing number of international students here reflects the high value placed on a US education by students from around the world," said Allan E Goodman, President of IIE. "In the weeks since September 11, IIE members and international offices around the globe have shown clearly how strongly they wish this interaction to continue. It is [IIE's] firm belief that international education will take on an even greater level of importance."

According to the report, California was the most popular state for English language students, followed by New York and then Texas. Student weeks, recorded for the second time, stood at 866,715, which for 85,238 students represents an average stay of just over 10 weeks per student – slightly longer than last year.

The number of American students receiving credit from overseas institutions also grew, by 11 per cent, the IIE found. And an online survey, conducted post-September 11, showed that 97 per cent of study abroad professionals believed education exchange was seen as equally or more important now among US students. Open Doors represents the most comprehensive survey of international student activity in the USA, with an estimated 2,484 institutions taking part.

Meanwhile, last year President Bush signed into law the USA Patriot Act, which authorised US$36.8 million of funding for the implementation of the SEVP programme.

It is hoped that this tracking programme will reassure all those involved in the US education industry about the reliability of the student visa system (see Language Travel Magazine, January 2002, page 6).

Alphe workshop moves into Asia

The first Alphe Asia workshop took place in Phuket, Thailand, in October last year, and received high praise from those who attended. Agents from 13 countries met with universities, colleges, high schools or language teaching institutions from 10 different countries, and participants reported busy schedules during the two-day event.

The workshop was on a similar scale to last year's Alphe USA workshop in Las Vegas (see Language Travel Magazine, July 2001, page 6). "[The London workshops] are very easy going and Alphe Asia is similar," commented Izzet Aslantatar of Alternatif Education Counselling Service in Turkey. "I have made some good contacts and it has been worthwhile to attend."

Agents, many of whom came from nearby Asian countries, were pleased with the range of institutions represented. "I have had a full schedule over the past two days, it's been wonderful," said Sophia Liu of Sino-American Education Services in Taiwan. Thitiya Chantraviroj, of Elite International in Thailand, added, "The Alphe workshop has been good [for our agency] because we have met institutions from a wide range of countries."

Representatives from some of the 21 education institutions who attended were equally complimentary of the event. Honour Schram de Jong, of multinational school Shane Global Village, travelled from London in the UK to attend the workshop. "It was quite a long way to travel but it's a nice location and a relaxed environment. [The workshop] is nice and small so you can chat to everybody and market your product," she said. Wu Jian, representing the Geneva Business Institute in Switzerland, added, "I have [met] many new agents."

Matthew Northover, Organiser of the workshop, said the mix of Thai hospitality and stunning surroundings helped the event run smoothly. He added, "We are looking forward to a larger Asian workshop in Thailand next year."

For more pictures and feedback from participants about Alphe Asia 2001, please visit www.hothousemedia.com

ABLS marketing its difference

Attendance at last year's Alphe UK workshop for the Association of British Language Schools (ABLS) in the UK highlighted the fact that language travel agents like to work with ABLS members because they are often smaller, owner-run schools, reported Judith Godfrey, Chairperson of ABLS.

As a result, and following discussions at its annual general meeting, the association's plans for 2002 include a possible mailshot to agents to promote the advantages of working with ABLS members, as well as representation at the Alphe workshop and other events.

"Our member schools are more flexible than bigger schools ever could be," claimed Godfrey. ABLS was originally set up to offer an affordable accreditation service for all types of providers, including home tuition services and seasonal centres, which is why it has attracted many individually-operated institutions.

Efforts increase to woo Chinese students back

The Chinese government has stepped up its drive to encourage Chinese scholars to return to their home country after their studies abroad by introducing a number of measures including better domestic salaries, free movement in and out of the country and the chance to contribute to the development of western China.

"The policy provides a more convenient and attractive environment for scholars abroad to serve their [country of origin]," said Liu Baoying, a senior official with the Ministry of Personnel. The ministries of personnel, education, science & technology, public security and finance have been at the forefront of the development of the new provisions.

The government now promises to finance technological introductions, scientific inspections and consultation services launched by returned scholars, says the newspaper, China Daily. Those who return will have the opportunity to register intermediary agencies with authorities to introduce investment and projects in China. The ministry of personnel also says it will help find jobs and schools for the families of students who return home after they have completed their studies.

According to official statistics, the number of Chinese students returning home – generally estimated to be just one-third of the total number of Chinese who study abroad – has increased in recent years. Since 1978, 400,000 Chinese are estimated to have left China to travel or work overseas, and so far, more than 130,000 of them are estimated to have returned.

According to the most recent Open Doors report released in the USA, Chinese students represented the single largest overseas student nationality in mainstream US education in the 2000/2001 academic year, accounting for 11 per cent of the total number of international students who attended colleges and universities in the country (see left).

Chinese is big in Japan

According to a survey of over 3,000 15-year-old students in Japan, Mandarin Chinese is considered to be the second-most important foreign language to learn after English. The survey results, released by the Japanese cabinet, indicate that German – once the second-most favoured foreign language – is now less popular among students.

Commissioned in July 2001, the survey found that 92 per cent of students thought they should study English first, followed by 60 per cent who said Chinese, 26.5 per cent French and 25.6 per cent Korean. Just 19 per cent of Japanese students who took part in the survey favoured German as a second language.