||Germany's lacklustre economy is having an adverse effect on the language travel market, although competition in the job market is providing one motivation for study abroad.
|The total number of students placed by 13 of the 16 agencies in our survey was 27,684
Individual agencies placed between 10 and 17,000 students on language courses
Average growth of combined agency business in 2002 was 9.5 per cent
Average length of stay for German students was 3.1 weeks
Commission rates ranged from 10 to 30 per cent, averaging out at 21 per cent
Eighty-one per cent of agents did not charge clients a handling fee
The average spend on tuition and accommodation per week was US$459
Just over half of German students studied abroad during July and August
||Most popular courses
Summer vac. 3%
Language plus work 2%
Exam prep. 2%
|Reasons for language travel
||Age range of clients
|Current work 36%
Studies at home 32%
Studies overseas 7%
||How do agencies find new schools to represent?
|Host families 67%
Private apartment 4%
Other press 2%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
Education NZ 25%
British Council 100%
The German economy has weakened since our last Agency Survey (see Language Travel Magazine, February 2002, pages 14-15), with unemployment figures rising and GDP growth estimates scaled down. A number of agencies reported that the current economic situation was encouraging study abroad, in a similar trend to other countries such as Japan, as high unemployment means students are keen to improve their job prospects. Market growth was muted, however, with four agencies reporting decreasing numbers in 2002, and overall growth standing at 9.5 per cent.
Thirty-six per cent of German students studied abroad for work-related reasons, according to our respondents, and 32 per cent were motivated by their studies in Germany. Many agents pointed to the 19-to-24 age range as being the group most likely to experience growth in the future, while others expected an increase in bookings from older age groups, as professional motivations induced older clients to study overseas. Compared with last year's survey, the German market has become more seasonal, with July and August favoured by 51 per cent of students, compared with just 35 per cent last year.
Language and destination trends
The UK was the most popular destination for Germans in 2002, according to the 16 agencies that took part in our survey, followed by Malta, Australia, Spain and France. The USA had slipped to seventh place this year. Germany's maturity as a language travel market is underlined by the fact that, while English is the most popular language to study abroad - accounting for 65 per cent of agency bookings - Spanish, French, Italian and Russian also figured, along with languages such as Polish and Arabic.
Perhaps also owing to the maturity of Germany's agency industry, commission rates were generous, with an average commission of 21 per cent - slightly above that of most other agency markets - and the highest rate of commission, received by several agencies, reaching 30 per cent. Our respondents estimated that 83 per cent of students knew which country they wanted to study in prior to agency consultation, while 59 per cent had a preferred city and 31 per cent had already selected a school. Of these clients, 10 per cent changed their mind about the country, 15 per cent about the city and 30 per cent about the school upon receiving advice from the agency.
Forecast for 2003
Agents were cautious in their forecasts for this year. Some predicted slow increases in bookings, because of factors ranging from globalisation and an improving economy to increasing demand for courses from professionals. Other agencies were hoping just to maintain their 2002 student numbers. In terms of course demand, increasing requests for business language and exam programmes were expected.
Germany was formally reprimanded by the European Commision last year for running a budget deficit of 3.8% of GDP - exceeding the 3% limit rule created to underpin the euro. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, despite election promises, has already raised taxes and social security contributions in an effort to boost the country's budgetary funds.
Germany's unemployment rate, at 9.9%, is rising, and the government's panel of economic advisers expects GDP growth of just 0.2% in 2002 and 1% this year.
There were some signs last year that retail spending was up, with the Bundesbank reporting that overall retail sales rose 1.7% in August on the previous month. The retail figures were backed up by consumer sentiment figures that showed morale was improving slowly, although willingness to buy remained low.
Source: FT.com, CNN.com, Deutsche Welle.
German agents named a range of language programmes they work with, including, in Australia: Sydney English Language Centre, Sydney; University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore. France: Centre International d'Antibes, Antibes; Institut Linguistique Adenet, Montpellier. In Ireland: Language Centre of Ireland, Dublin. In Italy: Arci-Pasolini, Castiglioncello. In Malta: Inlingua Malta, Sliema; Institute of English Language Studies (IELS), Sliema, NSTS English Language Institute, Gzira. In Russia: Alphabet Language School, St Petersburg. In Spain: Clic-IH, Sevilla; Don Quijote, various; Escuela Montalban, Granada; Lenguaviva, Sevilla; Malaca Instituto, Malaga. In the UK: Anglo Continental School of English, Bournemouth; Elisabeth Johnson Organisation, Haslemere; Language Studies International (LSI), various; Torbay Language Centre, Paignton; United International College, London. In the USA: Hawaii Pacific University, Honolulu. Worldwide: Ceran Lingua, Embassy CES, International Projects, OISE.
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in our survey:
Aktion Bildungsinformation; Dialog; DESR European Language & Travel; Euro Schüler Sprachreisen; Euro Sprachreisen; F+U Gemeinnützige Bildungseinrichtung; GIJK Gesellschaft für Internationale Jugendkontakte; Herbst London Tours + Sprachreisen; LAL Sprachreisen; Offährte Sprachreisen/IP International Projects; Perelingua Sprachreisen; Seidel Sprachreisen-Center International; Southern Cross Education; Stöhr Sprachreisen; TR Verlagsunion.