There are many factors involved in a student's decision about where to study, some are obvious and some play a more subtle role in the decision-making process. The affordability of a language course has a huge implication on a student - this encompasses issues such as the economic health of a student's home country, the tuition prices charged by a language school, the cost of living in a chosen destination and part-time work possibilities. Other issues that come into play are airfare prices and, for long-term students, access to free health care.
Combined with affordability is the issue of visa issuance. This issue is of concern for all language schools, with simple and successful visa issuance the holy grail for language schools worldwide. A general rise in enrolments at South African language schools has been attributed to a comparably relaxed visa system there.
Future plans for academic study also figure in the mix. Ireland plans to attract more international students into its higher education sector, realising the growth potential of the market. We detail a number of foundation courses geared towards further study in the UK in our new feature, Spotlight, in this issue.
Once these factors have been considered, the lure or attraction of a country or specific destination is likely to have some impact on a student's decision. Schools in New York testify that the city has a strong appeal for many students. But as Japanese agents reveal in our Agency Survey, this is not always the case. Only 71 per cent of Japanese agency clients had a specific country in mind prior to consultation with an agent.
Finally, there is recommendation or personal assurance to consider. This influences many students who visit an agency or talk to their friends and family. Personal satisfaction or connection is also important to agents. In several cases, agents point to close relations with school staff as a prime reason for working with that institution.
Quality is of course also important. Ireland is considering quality certification for language schools while existing quality schemes are upping the ante and improving their standards. But as well as defined quality standards, it is clear that business in this industry is born out of trust and friendship. We hope to foster this sense of international community in Language Travel Magazine, and hope to hear from you all during the year.