||Students' long-term academic and career goals shape China's demand for language learning overseas, with many of the main English language teaching destinations popular with students. Demand is likely to continue to rise, while destinations closer to home are also competing for market share.
|The total number of students placed by the 10 agencies in our survey was 2,500
Individual agencies placed between 30 and 1,000 students on language courses per year
Average growth of combined agency business in 2002 was 13 per cent
Average length of stay for Chinese students was 36.8 weeks
Commission rates ranged from 9 to 25 per cent, averaging out at 14.8 per cent
Seventy-seven per cent of agents charged a handling fee from US$100 to US$1,570
The average spend on tuition and accommodation per week was US$211
Malaysia was noted as rising in importance as a study abroad destination
Eighty-six per cent of students were learning a language for further studies overseas
||Most popular courses
New Zealand 13%
Summer vac. 14%
Exam prep. 13.5%
Academic prep. 9%
Language plus work 2%
Teacher training 2%
|Reasons for language travel
||Age range of clients
|Studies overseas 86%
Current work 7%
Studies at home 3%
||How do agencies find new schools to represent?
|Host families 52.5%
Private apartment 13%
Other press 13%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
CEC Network 11%
Education NZ 55%
British Council 88%
Across the 10 agencies that took part in our Agency Survey, seven respondents reported an increase in bookings last year, while two said their numbers had slowed and one reported static student numbers. One of the agencies that reported slower bookings said this was because of increased competition within the agency market in China. An overall average growth of 13 per cent was recorded for the year.
Almost 80 per cent of our respondents' clients were aged between 16 and 30 years old, with most agents highlighting the 16-to-24 year old age group as showing the strongest growth. Fifty per cent of students chose to travel abroad between July and September, and just over half opted for host family accommodation, with 30 per cent opting for residential accommodation. Choices in accommodation are comparable to other Asian markets, such as Korea, while in shorter-term markets, such as Spain, for example, host family accommodation can account for three-quarters of demand (see Language Travel Magazine, August 2002, pages 14-15). The average length of stay was 36.8 weeks, indicating long-term student goals, and popular courses were general, intensive, summer vacation, exam preparation and academic preparation programmes.
Language and destination trends
The UK was the most popular destination in the Chinese market, according to our survey this year, just ahead of the USA and New Zealand. One agent commented that the UK was trying to smooth out immigration procedures, which helped student recruitment. Malaysia is also becoming a popular English language study destination, according to one agency, because of cheaper costs and fewer immigration problems.
Seventy-seven per cent of agency business overall was individual bookings, and the average spend per week on tuition and accommodation was US$211. This figure is noticeably lower than in other markets, such as Korea, where the average spend was US$350 (see Language Travel Magazine, November 2002, pages 10-11). The agencies surveyed had all expanded their range of schools over the last five years, with between one and 50 new schools being added to their portfolios. Agencies also represented a number of study destinations - 12 on average.
Forecast for 2003
One agent forecast that better prospects of university entrance in China and a buoyant employment market would keep more students at home, but most others agreed that interest in study abroad programmes would continue to rise this year, as students sought a quality education and more Chinese could afford to study overseas.
China's economy is estimated to have grown by 7.9% in the first three quarters of 2002, powered by strong exports and increasing fixed asset investments. Official targets for GDP growth of 7% in 2002 were exceeded.
Since joining the World Trade Organisation in 2001, China has seen a rise in foreign direct investment (FDI). The FDI figure from January to September 2002 rose by 22.6% on the same period in 2001.
Retail sales in China have been described as stable, up 8.7% year on year for the first three quarters of 2002, although this is lower than the 10% target for the whole year. New spending patterns have emerged, with sales of housing and telecommunications equipment rising.
Source: People's Daily, Reuters
Chinese agents named a range of language programmes they work with, including, in Ireland: Centre of English Studies, Dublin. In Malaysia: ELS College, Petaling Jaya. In the Netherlands: Doc Business School, Daetinchen. In New Zealand: Advance School of Language, Auckland; Christchurch College of English Language, Christchurch; Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland; Victory English School, Christchurch. In Switzerland: Benedict International School, Zurich. In the UK: Bell, various; Cavendish School of English, Bournemouth; Churchill House School of English, Ramsgate; Hilderstone College, Broadstairs; House Of English, Brighton; London Commercial School, London; Manchester Academy of English, Manchester; Regent, various; Scanbrit School of English, Bournemouth; St Giles College, Brighton; Twin Education and Travel, London; University of Essex ELT Centre, Colchester; University of Sheffield English Language Centre, Sheffield. In the USA: Bethany Lutheran College, Mankato, MN. Worldwide: Aspect ILA
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in our survey:
Beijing Han Gao Consultant Co., Eduketing, EduShanghai International Co., Jiangsu Provincial International Exchange Center, Jilin International Talent & Technology Cooperation Co., Laioning International Cultural Education Communication Association, Qingdao International Cooperation Centre, Shanghai Foreign Service Co., Shenyang Sunshine E-Commerce Co., Universal I Education.