February 2012 issue

News Round Up
Inside the industry
Advisor Survey
Secondary Focus 1
Secondary Focus 2
Tertiary Focus 1
Tertiary Focus 2
Vocational Focus
Special Report
Course Guide
Regional Focus
Market Analysis

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Market Analysis:
South Africa

There were some encouraging growth figures recorded by South Africa’s ELT industry in 2011 and future forecasts for 2012 look good.

South Africa’s marketing budget by region (overall %) Student feedback respondents by world region of origin
W Europe 30%
Latin America 26%
Africa 15%
C&E Europe 11%
Middle East 11%
Asia 7%
W Europe 33%
Africa 23%
Asia 16%
Latin America 9%
Middle East 7%
C&E Europe 6%
No reply 6%

In my class there are... Average cost of a one-month course, excluding accommodation: R6,827 (US$838)

Average cost of residential accommodation per week: R1,575 (US$193)

Average cost of host family accommodation per week: R1,786 (US$219)
1. The right amount of students (66%)
2. Too many students who speak my language 17%
3. Too many students from one other country 10%
4. Too many students 1%

Top nationalites in South Africa by student weeks - according to schools, 2010 Overall average length of stay 5.1 weeks

Average hours of language tuition per week
Brazilian 15%
Korean 14%
Swiss 12%
Colombian 8%
Angolan 6%
Lybian 3%
Turkish 3%
French 2%
Saudi 2%
Spanish 2%
33% of students booked through an agent or advisor

Commission Student numbers by age range
21% is the average commission paid on a language course

Five of the institutions profiled paid commission on accommodation

8-11: 0%
12-15: 0%
16-18: 10%
18-24: 36%
25-30: 30%
30-50: 20%
50+: 4%

Means of recruiting students in South Afica, 2010 (schools) How did you find your programme? (students)
Advisors 52%
Internet 21%
Local bookings 19.5%
Other means 7.5%
It was recommended by a friend/relative 45%
I found it on the Internet 26%
It was recommended by an advisor 22%
Other 7%

In my class there are... To practise English with native speakers is ...
...just the right amount of students and mix of nationalities 67%
...too many students who speak my language 15%
...too many students from one other country 10%
...too many students 7%
(No reply 1%)
Quite easy 42%
Quite hard 29%
Very easy 19%
Very hard 8%
No reply 2%

Total marketing spend by sector and by category in %
Advisory costs 38%
Commission 32%
Incentives 3%
Agency brochures 2%

Travel costs 30%
Agent workshops 11%
Student exhibitions 6%
Advisor visits to school 6%
Entertainment 1%
Trips to agencies 7%
Publicity costs 32%
Agent mags etc. 3%
Student mags etc. 1%
Brochure, video etc 10%
Internet 18%

Student reasons for school selection included:
“City centre, well-renowned, cheap”
“It looked very good on the Internet, they answered all my questions on the phone and were very friendly”
“I saw a statistic on the Internet that this school has the best mix of nationalities”
“Because of the cultural programme and the small size”
“Different culture, only a few German speaking people, summertime, not so big school, quality of school”

Key points in STM survey South Africa
Number of participating organisations: 7
Total number of students at the organisations in 2010: 6,883
Total number of student weeks in 2010, estimated: 35,103
Participating schools: Wits Language School, Johannesburg; EC, Cape Town; Good Hope studies, Cape Town; International House, Cape Town; Kurus English, Cape Town; Interlink School of Languages, Cape Town; LAL, Cape Town.

South Africa student feedback at a glance
Total number of students: (female 56, male 71, unknown 2) 129
Average age in years: 26
Average number of students in class: 10.5
Participating schools: Wits Language School, Johannesburg; EC, Cape Town; Good Hope studies, Cape Town; International House, Cape Town; Kurus English, Cape Town; Interlink School of Languages, Cape Town; LAL, Cape Town; EF, Cape Town; Cape Studies, Cape Town.

It was well documented that those working in the English language teaching industry in South Africa were disappointed with mediocre impact the football World Cup had on business in 2010 (see LTM, March 2011, page 53), and some were still lamenting its effects in 2011. “We really thought it would generate a lot more income in 2011,” says Chris Roberts at EC Cape Town. And he surmises that the dip in the world economy and the high cost of air travel during the footballing event may have deterred price-sensitive students from travelling to the country for study purposes in 2011.

Johannes Kraus, Director at Kurus English in Cape Town, observes that while the high cost of living in the aftermath of the World Cup had a negative impact on student intake, he is confident of the international event’s more long-term effects. “I still see a lot of potential for South Africa in the upcoming years. The World Cup hasn’t unfolded its full marketing potential yet. I believe this huge marketing effect is still to come in 2013 and 2014,” he observes.

Some, however, like Interlink School of Languages in Cape Town, did experience a boost in enrolments following the tournament. Luanne McCallum at the school explains that the positive publicity surrounding the event almost certainly led to an increase in students, particularly from Spain, she says.

On the whole providers reported an encouraging year of growth. Good Hope Studies, based in Cape Town, documented a six per cent increase in student numbers in 2011. Location and the buoyant tourist trade almost certainly worked to their advantage notes School Director, Wolfgang Graser. Elsewhere, Kraus documents a 10 per cent increase while at EC enrolments improved steadily in the latter half of the year, notes Roberts.

Having experienced a bumper year in 2009, 2010 started well for Wits Language School in Johannesburg – part of the University of the Witwatersrand. However, according to Course Coordinator, Trish Cooper, numbers tailed off slightly in October 2010 and although growth started to pick up in 2011, the school had expected more. Increased competition in the area could well be to blame, notes Cooper. “There are now significantly more language schools in Johannesburg which are offering courses at lower rates…and many students opt for a less expensive option,” she laments.

Compared with other ELT destinations, the process of obtaining a visa for study in South Africa is relatively trouble free. However, some nationalities did encounter difficulties obtaining a visa in 2011. Kraus indicates neighbouring African countries, particularly Angola. “Latin American students were also complaining about increased obstacles and fees,” he adds. Cooper, meanwhile, blames differing processes employed by South African embassies in certain source countries.

According to the latest Global Market Report the average cost of tuition per month in South Africa was US$628, compared with US$1,674 in the UK (see STM, December 2011, page 24), making it the most competitively priced ELT destination. This, says Cooper, has not gone unnoticed by student clients. “A Russian couple, who recently joined our school, said they’d done Internet research on the cost of language schools in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and selected South Africa as the most cost-effective.”

While Wits Language School is planning to develop additional courses in English for academic purposes and Medical English, EF is looking to attract a slightly older demographic, namely those over the age of 25, by offering more exam or business type programmes, explains the school’s Anka Stenten. Kurus English is also making a play for the older language learner. “We launched a special 50 plus course to address this more and more popular age group,” enthuses Kraus.

Volunteer placements, running concurrently alongside a language programme, are another growing part of the language travel industry in South Africa. Having offered an English plus volunteering course for three years, Graser attests that there has been significant interest in this package of late. International House Cape Town, meanwhile, has just added an English plus volunteering option to its course offerings for 2012 (see News Round Up, page 14).

South African educators are relatively upbeat about future business. “We are all looking forward to 2012 because there is evidence that numbers are increasing rapidly,” relates Roberts. Entering their fourth year of operation, Kraus predicts a steady increase of around 10 per cent. McCallum is cautiously optimistic, however. While forward bookings look healthy, the effects of the recession in Europe are a concern, she says.

Keeping it cosmopolitan

“In terms of nationalities, we’ve had a steady stream of students from Latin America,” relates Trish Cooper at Wits Language School in Johannesburg. And she notes that the centre consistently welcomes a good cohort of students from China and Africa. However, she is keen to point out the school’s strict policy on maintaining a cosmopolitan campus. “We regulate the numbers of Chinese and African students to maintain a fair distribution of languages and nationalities in every class,” she says. “This helps to ensure that students interact in English.”

There were some changes in student source countries at EC Cape Town, with a steady increase in the number of students from Libya and Angola, notes the school’s Chris Roberts. Conversely, there was a drop in the number of Colombian students enrolling at the school. “The main reason here is that they work and study at the same time and although part-time work is available they are not capable of earning a living wage,” he says. “Some of our students do work as waiters for example but this is only to get the opportunity to experience authentic English outside the classroom.”

Owing to a good database of contacts there, Johannes Kraus, Director at Kurus English in Cape Town, relates that a bulk of their students arrived from Europe in 2011. Anka Stenten at EF, meanwhile, relates that although nationality mix at the school is generally quite varied, networking opportunities in certain regions opened up the marketplace for them in 2011. “I can only see a change in the [number of] Asian and Russian students where we have [gotten] more than in the past and that is due to the networking I’ve been working on.”

Meanwhile, a weaker rand, in comparison to the euro and the US dollar, led to an increase in students from European and Latin American countries for Interlink School of Languages in Cape Town. “It means [their money] goes a lot further here,” explains Luanne McCallum.

Statistics are based on figures supplied by a selection of individual schools and students. Not all survey respondents answered every question in the survey. Figures are, in some cases, rounded up or down to the nearest whole. All information is treated with the strictest confidence.

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