Contents - January 2008

Special Report
Junior demand
To be successful in the junior sector of the language travel market, schools must have high standards­, fulfil both the academic and extra-curricular requirements of juniors, and ensure their students’ welfare and safety 24-hours a day. They must also be flexible in their provision to meet the requirements of both the junior students themselves and their parents. Gillian Evans charts the latest trends in the junior market.

US third age programmes
Specific programmes aimed at older learners offer a slower pace of learning and customised activities and excursions. We profile a range of such courses available in the USA.

Ireland – Land of smiles
Ireland’s language travel industry trades heavily on its friendly welcome to international students. Irish school employees explain why this is just one of many reasons to study there. Amy Baker reports.


Balancing act

So there is soon to be a new kid on the block, in the form of Prime Education, a company comprising experienced industry professionals who are looking to carve out a new “high-end” niche for their education product (page 6). As the international education market continues to develop, providers try to improve on what is already available and therefore distinguish themselves in the market and ensure loyalty for a unique product. In the UK, private operators are now offering degrees for the first time too and promising better value for money (page 49).

Value for money is an important consideration for international students and among for-profit players – and, increasingly, public universities – it is a real goal. Of course, value for money is intangible, as the actual costs charged have to be weighed against so many variables including reputation of the school, any certificate gained, satisfaction of clients, welfare provision etc. All schools must keep up a constant balancing act, trying to keep costs low but satisfaction rates high, and the reality is that it is often the “extras” such as good extra-curricular activities and attention to welfare that make the difference between an average and excellent programme.
When asked if they would recommend their school, 93 per cent of our sample of students in France said that they would, but in fact this statistic is so much more meaningful if all the students have been on a previous language travel trip, as they have another programme to compare their school with. In this case, a high 40 per cent were second-time language learners, suggesting that satisfaction rates were genuinely high in France and schools offered more than just a basic package (pages 16-17).

So often it is the personal touch that really makes any international student happy – the care of a teacher, the dedication of a welfare officer or activities coordinator to ensure that junior clients are busy and content (pages 26-30) or the time taken by school owners to attend school excursions (page 40). It is heartwarming to hear of agents checking up on their clients while overseas (page 11) but I doubt this is a norm, just as I am sure that individual attention at a language school is not always a possibility.

In a commodified market where economies of scale play out, the challenge for all operators – agencies and educators – is to reassure clients of a duty of care at the same time as a commitment to competitive bottom line earnings. And that’s the bottom line!

Balancing act

New global player reveals its ambitions
Koreans look to Asian destinations
Taiwan relaxes rules for studY abroad loan
Ireland shocked by girl’s murder in Galway
Icef China grows in size, Work rules relaxed in NZ
Alphe Russia cements its reputation
Intuition buys out AEP in UK

Agency News
IDP clashes with agents in Nepal
Local agency association in Australia
European agency expansion plans

Agency Survey
Germany develops
Language learning in the UK and Spain is most typical among the German clientele, but internships are also developing as a business avenue.

Schools were rated highly by students in France; many of whom were simply learning the language for pleasure.

Ielts Impact
The Ielts English language test is starting to give rival Toefl a run for its money. Jane Vernon Smith charts the rise in popularity of this proficiency test.

Course Guide
High school year in Canada
Canada has a lot to offer those who are keen to sample secondary education away from home and many international students find the prospect of learning alongside native Canadian students appealing.
Students receive a full academic programme and, in most cases, extra language tuition at an international study centre.

Malta 2006

The Status survey gathers specific market data about all of the main language teaching markets in the world. Through this initiative, it is now possible to compare world market statistics, a summary of which will be published in the March 2008 issue.