|The total number of students placed by the 11 agencies in our survey was 895
Individual agencies placed between one and 275 students on study courses overseas in 2011
The average length of stay for Swiss students was 5.3 weeks
Overall, 66 per cent of Swiss students stayed in residential accommodation when studying overseas
33 per cent of Swiss clients were taking a study abroad programme for future work purposes
Only 18 per cent of the agencies in our survey charged a handling fee, of between CHF50 (US$54) and CHF180 (US$195)
Average business growth was 1.8 per cent
||Most popular courses
|1. UK 32%
2. USA 17%
3. Australia 14%
4. Ireland 7%
4. Germany 7%
6. Italy 6%
7. Canada 5%
8. New Zealand 3%
9. Malta 2%
9. Spain 2%
||1. Intensive 35%
2. Academic/exam prep 22%%
3. General 16%
4. Summer vacation 7%
5. Junior 6%
6. Business 3%
7. Language plus work experience 1%
|Reasons for studying overseas
||Average percentage advisor business
|1. Future work 33%
2. Studies at home 23%
3. Current work 21%
4. Pleasure 19%
5. Studies overseas 2%
||1. Language programmes 85%
2. Work & travel 6%
3. Internships 3%
4. Volunteering 2%
5. Secondary education 1%
|How do advisors recruit students?
||How do advisors find new schools to represent?
|1. Word-of-mouth 50%
2. Website 18%
3. Advertising in press 8%
4. Mail shots 5%
5. E/online marketing 4%
6. Seminars to students 1%
6. TV/radio 1%
||1. B2B conferences 40%
2. Language fairs and student expos 16%%
3. Internet 13%
4. STM 4%
5. Other press 1%
|Percentage of advisors who recognised each of the following organisations
English Australia 67%
Languages Canada 67%
Groupement FLE 67%
Italian in Italy 22%
English NZ 56%
British Council 100%
English UK 89%
World Organisation 89%
Quality English 89%
The Swiss study abroad advisory centres that took part in this issue’s survey of 2011 business trends were largely small- to medium-sized operators who collectively placed 895 students in study courses overseas last year, and their business trends reveal a rather bleak picture of the market in 2011. Only four out of the eleven centres that took part in our survey reported a growth in business, compared with seven in our survey of business trends in Switzerland in 2010 (see LTM, February 2011, pages 32-33). This year, a further two respondents recorded negative growth of up to 15 per cent, while five more said business had stagnated at last year’s level. Overall, Swiss business increased by a mere 1.8 per cent in 2011.
Language and destination trends
English accounted for the lion’s share of all course bookings, with the only other notable language choices being Spanish and Switzerland’s official languages of French, German and Italian. Looking at the main destinations, the USA consolidated its second place in the league table this year, increasing its market share by three percentage points over the previous year, to 17 per cent. In top place again was the UK, which increased its share by one percentage point to 32 per cent, while Australia, in third position, continued to lose share, down from a high of 22 per cent in 2009 (see LTM, May 2009, pages 24-25) to 14 per cent in 2011.
Student and course trends
Although for future work was the impetus for enrolling on an overseas studies programme for a majority of students, learning for pleasure accounted for the reason why around 19 per cent of clients took a course overseas in 2011, compared with seven per cent in 2010. Taking a course for their studies overseas, however, was not a major factor in the Swiss market, accounting for only two per cent of client enrolments. In terms of courses, however, intensive programmes were the top choice among Swiss clients accounting for 35 per cent of bookings, compared with 20 per cent previously. This was followed by academic/exam preparation courses, taking 22 per cent of enrolments, down seven percentage points on last year.
Swiss advisory centres attract around half of their clients through word-of-mouth recommendations, with websites accounting for a further 18 per cent of clients. The main way in which they find new schools to work with is through agent workshops, followed by attendance at language fairs and expos and the Internet. The advisors that took part in this issue’s survey worked with between eight and 200 schools in four-to-15 countries.
Advisors remain cautious in their forecasts for 2012 with many mentioning that much depends on the global economic situation. However, four survey respondents did point to growth this year, one of whom said they would increase their advertising activities to fuel demand. However, two advisors were less optimistic saying that they thought business trends would be similar to those in 2011.
• Year-end GDP growth for 2011 was estimated to be 1.9 per cent, significantly lower than the 2.7 per cent achieved in 2010. This is mainly owing to the effects of the global slowdown and the strength of the Swiss franc.
• The Swiss Franc reached an all-time high in August 2011, leading the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to intervene by setting a minimum exchange rate target of SFr1.20 to the euro. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said the negative impact on exports and company investments could sharply slow short-term economic growth in Switzerland.
• According to Credit Suisse, the strong franc has been “painful but bearable”. The first half of 2011 experienced a goods exports increase of 3.6 per cent. However, the drop of 6.2 per cent in export goods prices is a clearer indication of the expected impact of the strong franc, revealing that some export companies may have had to slash prices. Closer anaylsis reveals that not all sectors performed equally. While the watch industry and the mechanical engineering, electronics, and metals sector recorded positive revenue growth rates, other sectors such as textiles and chemicals posted negative growth rates.
• Average inflation was expected to settle at 0.3 per cent in 2011 and is estimated at one per cent for 2012. The rise in the value of the Swiss franc seemed to curb inflation.
• Consumer purchasing power, which increased by 1.3 per cent in 2011, looks set to increase by a further 1.5 per cent this year due to low interest rates and cheap prices.
Source: Credit Suisse; swissinfo.com
Swiss advisory study centres named a range of programmes they work with, including, in Australia: Language Links Education College, Perth, WA. In Canada: Tamwood International College, Vancouver, BC. In France: French in Normandy, Rouen; IFALPES, Annecy; LSF, Montpellier. In Germany: Dialoge, Lindau; did deutsch-institut, various; Kapito, Muenster. In Ireland: Galway Cultural Institute, Galway; Limerick Language Centre, Limerick. In Italy: Dilit International House, Rome; Scuola Palazzo Malvisi, Ravenna. In Malta: Chamber College, Gzira. In New Zealand: ABC, Queenstown; Seafield School of English, Christchurch. In the UK: Brighton Language College, Brighton; Cambridge Academy of English, Cambridge; Christian English Language Centre, Bournemouth; ELC, Bristol; Kingsway English Centre, Worcester; Regent, various; Torquay International School, Torquay. In the USA: Converse International School of Languages, San Diego, CA; ESL Language Centers, various; TLA - The Language Academy, Fort Lauderdale, FL. International: Estudio Sampere; International House; Kaplan International Colleges; OISE.
Thank you to the following advisory study centres for taking part in this survey (NB: one advisory centre declined to give its name): AILS Séjours Linguistiques; Akzent Sprachbildung; Aventure Linguistique; Heidi’s Bureau; Interlangues; Lingua Solutions; LinguaService; Marshall Language Studies; Senior Culture GmbH; Surprise Reisen.