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Contents - January 2004


Special Report
The visa process
For students wanting to study overseas, one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome can be visa issuance. A student's perception of the visa issuing process for each country has a significant effect on their final decision about where to study. As Gillian Evans reports, many countries have tightened up their immigration rules and requirements since September 11, 2001, while claiming to value the contribution - financial and otherwise - made by students.


Direction
Active learning
Language travel programmes that combine tuition with a targeted activity, such as Spanish and dance, are not uncommon, but they continue to be under-represented by many agents. While their specialist appeal does limit their profitability for agents, schools providing such courses point out that demand is good, and agents can expand their client base by offering these courses. Their above-average prices may deter some students but attract others.



City Focus
Dublin's charm
A blend of the old and the new, Dublin provides a fascinating mix of historic culture and modern development. Bethan Norris profiles Ireland's most popular destination for language travel students.



Opinion

Long-term goals
There are sometimes developments on a macro-level that yield opportunities for improving business in the study abroad industry, such as improving aviation links or a government's policy on education. At the same time, industry players may feel that obstacles increasingly occur to thwart their business.

We touch on many such challenges and opportunities in this issue, which combines news and comment from both the language training and mainstream education sectors of the industry for the first time, with the incorporation of Education Travel Magazine as a bi-monthly publication into Language Travel Magazine.

In Poland, for example, the slow-moving economy is having a restrictive influence on the ability of Polish citizens to afford language study abroad, although the looming accession of Poland into the European Union is providing a new motivation to improve language skills (pages 12-13).

In Spain, factors such as the prevalence of low-cost airlines offering cheap flights to Spanish destinations from Europe and the British footballer, David Beckham, moving to Madrid, is increasing interest in Spanish, according to schools. However, issues affecting the whole market last year, such as the Sars outbreak and the war in Iraq, as well as a lacklustre economy in Germany, dampened enrolment figures in 2003 (page 21).

One of the biggest hurdles at the moment for both the language and mainstream sectors of the market is visa issuance. The US market is particularly affected at the moment by stringent visa regulations that have continued to be updated since September 11, 2001, in a bid to ensure 'homeland security' (pages 22-26). In the USA, the President of the American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP) claims that language students face more difficulties negotiating the visa system because it has been designed with long-term undergraduate students in mind and the processes are off-putting to a short-term student. The association is advocating for concessions where possible (page 31).

While many other countries have also raised the bar in terms of visa rules - for example, some nationals now need to obtain a transit visa to pass through the UK en route to a third country (page 6) - on the other side of the coin, many countries are also signing cooperation agreements intended to improve business relations and exchange between their nation and others.

For example, the USA and Vietnam have paved the way for direct flights between their countries (page 6), which would help the appeal of the USA as a study destination, notwithstanding the cumbersome visa process. Ireland recently conducted a trade mission to China and strategic alliances between Irish and Chinese colleges were recognised during the trip (page 4).

In the mainstream education sector, there have been similar moves on a national level to stimulate education exchange. In Japan, the government is introducing scholarships designed to encourage its citizens to undertake two to three-year masters and doctorate degrees overseas (page 41). Meanwhile, Singapore continues its quest to position itself as an Asian education hub and attract its share of the 1.8 million students currently studying in a foreign country (page 41).

The wheels of globalisation will continue to turn and international exchange is certain to build over time. The study abroad industry will remain as relevant as it is today. The challenge for those in the industry is to stay focused on the long-term view.


Opinion
Long-term goals
There are sometimes developments on a macro-level that yield opportunities for improving business in the study abroad industry, such as improving aviation links or a government's policy on education. At the same time, industry players may feel that obstacles increasingly occur to thwart their business.

News
Ireland takes trade mission to China
Visa rules delayed in Australia
English UK gets the yes vote
State-led marketing takes off
ACL to set up language schools in China
Multilingualism fuels
academic success

Travel News
More low-cost airline activity
Germanwings plans expansion
USA-Vietnam agreement signed

Agency News
Alphe Asia grows in size
Fedele prioritises new agents
WYSTC in Thailand
shows serious side

Agency Survey
Poland's slow pace
Poland's fragile economy and high unemployment rate dampened growth of the language travel market in 2003. However, the country's accession into the European Union this year may well boost interest in language travel in the future.

Feedback
Italy feedback
This issue's Feedback survey of students studying Italian in Italy reveals that more language travellers are learning Italian for work purposes now and a much higher proportion of students are booking their course through an agent.

Market Report
Steady Spain
Given the difficult year experienced by all operators in 2003, the reports from Spanish language schools are quite positive. Many schools attest that interest in learning Spanish remained high last year, even if overall numbers dropped or remained stagnant. Reasons given for the high interest included further study in the Spanish university system and footballer, David Beckham, moving to Madrid! Amy Baker reports.

Course Guide
Independent UK schools
Many independent schools in the UK offer their own summer courses to international language students who stay for periods of between one and six weeks. Other private organisations arrange summer programmes based in independent UK schools. Sports and other activities usually play a central part in the curriculum.

Q&A
AAIEP position
Changes have recently been made to the USA's immigration system that have galvanised the country's English language teaching industry into action. Kelly Franklin, President of the American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP), answers questions about his association's response to the current challenges facing English language schools.

Status
Status: Germany 2002
The Status survey is a venture by Language Travel Magazine, which gathers specific market data about all of the main language teaching markets in the world.