January 2003 issue

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Baselt's bold plans

The British Association of State English Language Teaching (Baselt) in the UK has bold plans to work with agents over the next few years. The association's Marketing and Communications Manager, Julie Hutchinson, answers our questions about Baselt's ongoing evolution.

Full name: British Association of State English Language Teaching (Baselt)
Year established: 1981
Number of members: 117
Type of members: State sector universities and colleges of higher and further education
Government recognition: Yes
Complaints procedure: Yes
Association's main role: To assist members in maintaining, developing and promoting their ELT courses to overseas students
Agent workshop/fam trips: Yes
Contact details: Julie Hutchinson, Baselt Marketing and Communications Manager, University of Gloucestershire, Cornerways, The Park Campus, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 2QF, UK. Tel: +44 1242 227099, Fax: +44 1242 227055; Email: baselt@chelt.ac.uk

What have been Baselt's main achievements over the past year?
The fam trip or 'inward mission', as we call it, for Turkish agents was very successful. It was organised in liaison with the British Council office in Istanbul, and six agents and a Council liaison person, accompanied by myself, visited a number of Baselt member institutions and met representatives from 30 institutions. Turkey is an interesting country for our members and has a high priority in their marketing strategy, as many Turkish students are interested in the progression routes from language study on to other vocational and academic studies. The feedback from the trip has been excellent and there have now been firm student enrolments as a result.

How has Baselt been working with agents?
Baselt now has a three-year rolling programme of inward missions for agents that includes Japan in February, Taiwan in June, and Mexico in September. We are hoping to have inward missions from Kazakhstan, Russia, and Korea or Vietnam, in 2004. Another key initiative over the past year has been the development of the Baselt electronic recruitment service. This is offered to all agents as a free service that gives them immediate contact with all of our full members. The basis of the service is that an agent can send details of a specific query to Baselt and we immediately distribute these details to our members by email. Those members able to supply the service then contact the agent directly to express their interest and take the matter further. This of course saves time and expense on the part of the agent and allows them to find out quickly whether a broad range of state institutions can meet the specific course programme and service requirement that their clients require. Baselt is also a member of the Global Alliance of Educator and Language Associations (Gaela) and wishes to continue to attend regular meetings with Felca representatives at various events worldwide.

Can you tell us a little about the agent-provider agreement that Baselt issued to its members?
Reaction has been very positive with members using it for comparative purposes with their own in-house agreements, or as a basis for creating their own. Members continue to send feedback on the agreement so it will continue to evolve and we hope that one day it will be seen as the standard document that underpins agent-provider activities.  

Baselt updated its brand image last year. What has the reaction been from agents around the world?
We have received a very positive reaction to the new image, which has exceeded our expectations.

Which are the key markets from which you predict growth for your member institutions this year?
China is still the key market both in terms of size and in its diverse requirements. Growth is likely to continue here with China's recent entry to the World Trade Organisation and the Olympics Games in 2008. Member institutions recruit Chinese from basic English to postgraduate studies. Baselt institutions are well placed to take advantage of such a market. Japan, the world's second-biggest economy, always offers potential, as do countries such as Korea. Our strategy is to offer our members opportunities to diversify, and this is reflected in our inward mission programme. New markets like the Central Asian Republics and Vietnam feature in the programme, which offers members a cost-effective way to explore and evaluate these markets.

Why should agents choose to represent Baselt member institutions?
Key factors are the range of facilities and resources available to students in member institutions, and, of course, the quality guarantee offered by our accreditation scheme. Of growing significance is the potential that members have to offer seamless progression in career-based education, English to engineering, for example. Agents recognise the importance of this, and are keen to work with our members.

What plans does Baselt have for the future?
We hope to produce a specialised electronic agent bulletin in 2003, which will include information and feedback from agents as well as details of innovative course programmes and services from our members. We will be strengthening and widening our relationship with a growing number of quality agents and agent associations, and enhancing Baselt as the partner of choice for agents who wish to access quality state sector services. We also hope to work on a standardised agent tracking service so that the effectiveness of agent-provider activities can be better measured for the benefits of both parties.

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