Q&A Agent association
Kseniya Yasinska, Déléguée Générale of Unosel talks about the association’s new look and renewed focus.
Full name of association: Union Nationale des Organisations de Séjours Educatifs, Linguistiques et de Formation en Langues
Year established: 1978
Number of members: about 70
What has been the main focus in the last year?
We revisited procedures for admission with more control and inspections. This year we welcomed five new members. In October 2012 we held our annual Unosel Congress in Monaco. I personally attended the Alphe UK Conference and the Felca AGM. It was a first time for me and I was really pleased to meet fellow Felca members. Unosel has also been working with several government bodies.
tell us about the association’s new image.
The new logo represents a customised seal with three key words: trust, quality, results. It can be seen like an eye too, “the eye of quality control”. Our new website and search system is highly optimised. We dedicated space to each branch of Unosel. Given information is personalised according to the profile of each visitor. Each member has their own page, and he/she can edit it at any time.
For an agency, what are the benefits of being a member of UNOSEL?
The aim of the association is to promote and inform the public of the professionalism of its members, to develop consumer confidence by giving consumers genuine guarantees of service, and to keep its members abreast of new developments. Member benefits are: the weight of Unosel within the industry; government lobbying, greater influence; communication network with media/partners; additional visibility of member activity; training seminars; forums and exhibitions.
What are the benefits of being a member of Felca?
Felca has an international importance for our industry. We are all working in an international field. Together it is great to know that other national associations have a combined strength.
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Do you think the accreditation of agents/agencies is necessary? How important is it?
Rafael Cavazos Sanchez, Enjoy Languages, Mexico
“In México exists an accelerated and continued growth in the demand of study abroad, which has developed the creation of new educational agencies dedicated to provide guidance and counselling for students that expect to go abroad and learn another language, or follow a certain level of school or a course of specialisation. However, the diversity of ideas, procedures, processes, etc.., that each agency has added to its services in order to improve it, has forced these agencies to operate totally independently, and in a way very differently from each other. Therefore I think it is important to belong to an association of educational travel agencies, and establish ethical business standards for the benefit of consumers of these services. Having a partnership with the accreditation body, means that there is a guarantee of security, confidence and good service and being updated constantly, or improving. Currently it is necessary in the educational travel industry to have a protocol governing the creation of new agencies and urge those already established. I am aware that the international association Felca is issuing a code of conduct that is precisely to contribute to the mediation of the good results. In Mexico we do not have an association that certifies the rules and procedures to provide quality service and excellence, into existing agencies. Felca is welcome to present something in our country. It would help to develop our services to world-class status.”
Juergen Peisker, Ausland Sprachendienst, Germany
“An agent, for whom quality, reliability, and honesty are the fundamental basis of his/her business, requires no endorsement from a third party, which possibly is driven by their own business interests. In a free democratic society the respectable enterprises, as well as the unscrupulous, are identified in the course of time, and tend to yield the commercial consequences thereof. Euphemistically stated recognition and accreditation of an agent is done via his/her market and through the bookings he/she receives. However, I am aware that in a less developed market with a less developed legal consumer protection plan in place, certification of whatever type may be helpful to support an uninformed customer base. Ausland Sprachendienst had been on the market for 41 years and this I’m proud to say is without accreditation from anyone except from our clients and our associate educational institutions. We work hard to successfully maintain our well-earned and well-recognised standards.”
Daniela Pavoni, Mirunette International Education, Romania
“I do believe that agency accreditation is necessary in order to strengthen the agent reliability in connection to the clients and make the agent maintain the standard of quality for the educational products offered. Mirunette International Education is both a Quality English authorised agent partner and an English UK Partner Agency and during the years we have taken advantage of this by receiving more and more enquiries. In our country we do not belong to an agency association. One has not been founded so far because there are not so many educational agencies in the country. I do not believe that a local body responsible for accrediting agencies is welcome, but an international one, promoting quality, seriousness, responsibility and a strong code of conduct [would be beneficial].”
Agency of the month
In a series appearing each month in Study Travel Magazine, we ask a different teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or advisor partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.
This month Spark Spanish in Spain nominates, Apple Languages in the UK. Douglas Haines, General Manager at the school, explains this decision.
“In the last few months, Spark Spanish has been working effectively with the Apple Languages team. Understanding the uncertain times the company is in, we have been impressed by how they have been responding on every front with the utmost professionalism whilst still continuing with their personal attention. The Apple Languages team have managed to update the information for Spark Spanish to a brand new and lively website, they also processed, secured and communicated in due time the booking of recent students and, finally, respected all the terms and conditions from our mutual agreement. Due to this, we nominate them as agency of the month, taking this opportunity to show our support to our partners.”
“We are really happy to be working with Spark Spanish. El Puerto has always been a very popular location for our students and we are pleased to work with such a professional and friendly school. They provide high quality courses and excellent levels of student care.”
Mike Cummins, Apple Languages, UK