||Cyprus Tourism embracing study abroad market
The Cyprus Tourism Organisation held a seminar in October to promote the country as a destination for English language students. Learn English in Cyprus featured talks from relevant industry bodies and was attended by a representative from the Ministry of Education and Culture as well as many education institutions.
In a speech at the event, Phoebe Katsouris, Director General of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, pointed out that Cyprus had many advantages such as its geographical position, excellent climate and cultural heritage. “[Learning] tourism is a very fast growing industry from which Cyprus as a new destination [can] benefit, especially from the English as a foreign language travel segment,” she said. “Italy has already shown an interest. Other countries with good prospects of developing language travel towards Cyprus are the UK, Germany, Russia and other Eastern European countries.”
The seminar gave participants the opportunity to discuss ways of promoting the English language travel industry in Cyprus and established the need to set up a self-regulating national body that would develop a national code of practice and monitor standards. Speakers included Stephan Roussounis from Malvern House in the UK, which currently runs a summer school in Cyprus; Anastasia Lukina from Insight Lingua in Russia; and Claus Kunze from FDSV in Germany.
Yiota Kontoloucas, Director of English Learning Centre in Cyprus, said, “Language travel with us began four years ago and we have seen it go from strength to strength. Last year we joined forces with Malvern House [in the UK] and the numbers literally soared. We had 400+ students over a nine-week period.” He said the seminar was useful as it brought the industry to Cyprus’ doorstep and gave directions as to how to ensure Cyprus becomes a serious player. “We left the seminar believing that it is possible for Cyprus to become a major destination in the European language travel market,” he said.
Learning’s student fair in Colombia
Colombian agency, Learning, organised a student fair in Barranquilla in September in order to promote study abroad opportunities to local students. Henry Caro from Learning said that the student fair was a first for them and was aimed at university and high school students and young professionals under the age of 30. In total, 200 prospective students from Barranquilla and the surrounding area attended the event.
Caro said that his agency was one of only a few located in Barranquilla and the fair provided an opportunity for the agency to showcase its programmes. “We hired some people in order to represent each one of the schools we promoted,” he said.
“They studied the complete information about the school and also contacted schools in order to complete the information they had collected.” Some of the agency’s partners also sent representatives. Caro added, “Many [schools] also gave us some special prices or promotional advantages for the students who visited the fair.”
Agency of the month
In a series appearing each month in Language Travel Magazine, we ask a different language teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or agent partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.
This month, Taunton School in the UK nominates Meridian and Baltic Council in Latvia. Helen Lami, International Marketing Director at the school, explains her decision.
“It is very difficult to nominate one particular agent as there are so many good ones out there that we work with. However, I would like to give a special mention to Meridian and Baltic Council in Latvia and Estonia. We have worked with the Baltic Council and Meridian for over three years now and we have always found them to be a very good and reliable agency. They spend time with potential students and they are always good at recommending the right schools for their students. We welcome students to Taunton School International who arrive knowing what to expect from our one-year and two-year GCSE programmes and our summer school. [Staff at the agency] are committed to their students and are willing to help us sort out any problems. I have enjoyed many visits to Latvia and Estonia to attend their fairs which are always well organised with quality students attending. Olga and Evgeni Govor run a professional agency and have a lot of experience. I enjoy working with them as business partners but also as friends.”
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Is your business being affected by the current global economic slowdown?
Kate Clarke, Al Ahlam Higher Education Services, Oman
“Business is booming in the Middle East but we are all feeling the pinch by experiencing rapid inflation for the first time ever. The Gulf market has always been very price sensitive so anything that affects buying power is bound to make a difference. That said, the UK remains the favoured study destination because of its proximity and the close historical links with many Gulf countries. Currency fluctuations have therefore had little impact on students’ decision making but, if the worst is yet to come, that may change. Certainly the higher cost of living in the UK does worry students here but most are willing and able to comfortably fund their studies through sponsorship or by private means. If the global economic downturn continues, the Middle East will not be immune but, for now, people are not unduly worried.”
Oliver Schneider, PractiGo, Germany
“In times of economic difficulty it becomes even more important for people to be able to stand out above others when applying for employment or a university place. This leads students to look into ways of improving their chances. We have many school leavers who complete a language course followed by a work placement or internship before beginning their chosen course of studies at university. This gives them the edge over a school leaver who has no work experience or secondary language skills. Even the proof that a job applicant has attended a language course abroad for several weeks can be an important point for a prospective employer when going through new applications. Therefore, we are positive that the number of students who book with us will continue to increase regardless.”
Kemal Yildiz, Managing Director, Pasifik International Education Consultancy, Turkey
“Despite the fact that the global financial crisis, having started in America and spread out to Europe and Asia, does not affect Turkish markets essentially, it causes people to cut their expenditures. In other words, even if the global financial crisis has not yet affected Turkey, it has already started to create uncomfortable feelings with people. Turkish families wishing to bring their expenditures under control, but not abandoning the thought of their children’s education abroad, are orienting themselves towards economical education options. Families of the opinion that their children will have better chances of a good career in Turkey, when they receive education abroad, are quite often able to cut their own expenditures for the sake of their children. I think that due to the fact that education is the first priority of families in Turkey, this sector will continue to grow next year and in the following years as it was in previous years.”
Kimberly Haber, Director, Adelante LCC, USA
“Adelante LLC is based in the USA, so most definitely our economy has slowed down. However, our market independent college-age students looking to gain international work experience and language acquisition rather than a study abroad experience tends to buck trends. For example, after 9/11 we thought we would see a huge drop in our numbers, but we did not lose one single applicant and only two postponed their October start dates to November and December. Budget comes into play, of course, but again our demographic of work experience seekers usually have a plan in mind to come up with the money to fund their programme long before they actually go abroad. To offset the economic crisis we plan on offering payment plans and more add-on benefits to our programmes for the same record low prices we are known for.”
On the move
Ian Smith (left) joined the Training Partnership in Torquay, UK in May 2008, taking responsibility for Work Placements. He began his career in education at Boston FE College before experiencing life with a private training provider in Bournemouth. Suzie Lees began her career in accountancy and has spent 10 years gaining experience in finance and marketing with Beverage Brands. She joined the Training Partnership in June 2008 establishing her role as Programme Co-ordinator.
Lina Cucinotta has just taken on the role of managing the Professional Business English Program at RMIT English Worldwide, based in Australia. This customised English language training is for individuals or groups of individuals from a company. “My hope is to communicate the importance of having proficient English speaking employees,” she said.
ACE (Navitas) winner of the LTM Star Award Chain School 2008 is delighted to announce that John Crick has joined the team as Marketing Director based in Sydney, Australia. He has over 10 years of experience in the international education sector most recently as Regional Director, North Asia with Study Group. Meanwhile, after 13 years at ACE, Rob Brown (below) has left ACE to take up the position of ‘Group Marketing Manager eMarketing’ with ACE’s parent company, Navitas. In his new role, Mr Brown will be coordinating eMarketing across the 30+ brands within the Navitas Group.
Icef would like to thank Rod Churchill-Bateman for 16 years’ loyal service to the company and to our Australian and New Zealand clients. He worked with Icef from the time when its main activities were publishing guides for language courses and organising fairs. He worked closely with Icef’s founder, Karl Badde, developing Icef Workshops and played an active role in building up this aspect of Icef’s business. He plans to spend more time enjoying time with his two small granddaughters as they grow up, and spending more time with his wife, Gail, in Australia.
Former Director of Link Viagens Culturais in Brazil, Andrea d’Essen continues to bring the sunshine to ELC Bristol in the UK. As well as handling homestays, Ms d’Essen has recently taken over responsibility for the school’s marketing in South America.
Accommodation - Nido expands operations
Nido Student Living, a high-end student accommodation provider in the UK developed by the Blackstone Group, has announced that it will be opening two new student accommodation blocks one in London and one in Barcelona. The company currently owns and runs one student accommodation block in the Kings Cross area of London.
The new accommodation will open in 2010. In Spain, there will be 264 single, 172 twin and 288 twin studio rooms. The purpose-built building in Barcelona will have its own shops, laundry facilities, a café and internal courtyard, as well as rooftop pool and sundeck and will be the first Nido accommodation outside of the UK. Nido Barcelona will also have a Residential Life Coordinator who will offer students round-the-clock support and advice and also organise events and activities for residents.
In London, Nido Spitalfields will accommodate 1,204 students over 31 floors in a mixture of single rooms, twin studios and cluster apartments. The new building will provide 1,133 square metres of accommodation and will be the largest student block in the city.
Douglas Kirkman, Managing Director of The Blackstone Group’s Real Estate Division, said of the Barcelona division, “More and more students are choosing to study abroad which means the demand for quality accommodation is increasing accordingly. Spain is the seventh most popular destination for the world’s foreign students with a substantial demand for private accommodation. Whether students are first year or completing their degree, post graduates, short term students or those attending study abroad programmes, Nido is designed to provide a safe and communal environment.”
Exams - New online Toeic preparation course
Hamburg-English, an English language school catering for German business people in Germany, has developed its own online Toeic preparation course and become the first official Toeic testing centre to offer a preparation course online.
Students can sign up to the online service for between five days or one year and pay between e9 (US$11.5) and e92 (US$117.6). Robert Phipps, Manager of Hamburg-English, said that he developed the online programme after analysing other online Toeic preparation courses. “I noted that preparation for students wishing to sit the Toeic test was being offered online by many people/companies otherwise not connected with the test. The main source of preparation was by book and both services were a matter of the repeated answering of Toeic-like questions or the repeated completion of a practice test. I noticed a lack, a place where improvement was needed.”
The online practice material provided by Hamburg-English includes a number of exercises designed to familiarise students with real Toeic questions as well as focused training techniques and the chance to become accustomed to the time pressures involved in sitting the test. “Our most recent addition is our automatic exercise creator that caters for sentence structure and vocabulary learning, but builds in motivation because it will create a missing word exercise from any text pasted into it,” says Phipps. “The exercise creator is fully automatic and can create an unlimited amount of different and unique exercises.”
Technology - New agency software for recruiters
Object Next Software, part of the Australia-based education export industry group OCA Group, has developed a new software package that will streamline the process of recruiting overseas students for education providers. The software, called Ascent One, can be customised for each institution and aims to speed up communication processes by having agents and students complete paperwork online and also improve the tracking of student applications.
Naresh Gulati, CEO of the OCA Group, said that the system has been specially designed for the international centres of institutions involved in the recruitment of international students. “It allows agents to lodge applications electronically,” he said. “Institutions can assess the applications at the click of the button and manage their workloads more effectively. The software also handles commission billing. Agents can check their commission details online before billing the institutions. This cuts the reconciliation hassles.”
The company hopes to sell the product to institutions around the world and one Tafe in Australia has already signed up. Gulati added, “Ascent One guarantees the institutions recovery of investment through costs savings within 12-to-24 months of its installation. In an event this does not happen, Ascent One would refund the difference.”
Technology - Phrasebooks for mobiles
Lonely Planet, the publisher of guidebooks for destinations worldwide, has teamed up with Steape, a mobile phone travel application developer, to produce audio phrasebooks for mobile phones.
So far the pair have created mobile phrasebooks translating English into the 10 languages of Mandarin, Vietnamese, Cantonese, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Czech and Spanish. Each phrasebook contains about 200 phrases with both text and audio translations and other languages are currently in development.
Chris Boden, Lonely Planet’s Director of Global Business Development, said, “Our phrasebooks are extremely popular and an essential travel tool. It is a natural progression for us to make this content available on mobile phones. The applications will be made available through handset manufacturers and mobile network operators worldwide.”
Accreditation issues for English language programmes have proved challenging for AAIEP. Jeanne Hind, AAIEP President, answers our questions.
Full name: American Association of Intensive English Programs
Year established: 1988
Number of members: 275 member programs; 15 associate members
Type of members: accredited intensive English programs; associate members are non-voting members who support AAIEP in its goals
Association’s main role: To support and promote ethical and professional standards for intensive English programs; to communicate the value of English study in the US to governmental and non-governmental agencies and to seek to lower barriers to such study; to increase visibility abroad of member programs; to provide a forum for member exchange; and to facilitate recruiting opportunities for members.
Government recognition: Yes
Code of practice: Yes
Complaints procedure: Written explanation of complaint to VP of Standards
Agent workshops/fam trips: Yes
Contact details: AAIEP Central Office, 229 N 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA; Tel: +1 2158955856; Fax: +1 2158955854; email: email@example.com; web: www.aaiep.org or www.EnglishUSA.org
What has your association been up to in the last 12 months? In 2005, a by-laws change was approved to require that as of September 30, 2008, all AAIEP members must be accredited. Member programmes are accredited through the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (Accet), the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) or one of the six regional accrediting agencies that accredit institutions of higher education. Working toward this end has been an on-going effort over the last few years. In May 2008, the new edition of the AAIEP Member Profiles: English in the USA (2008-2010) was published in time for the Nafsa Conference in Washington D.C. Also, after a member survey indicated there was member interest in professional development, AAIEP held its first Annual Professional Development Conference in October 2008. This two-day event included an Advocacy Day that offered a workshop on how to advocate with government representatives followed by visits to the Hill by AAIEP members. The second day offered a series of workshops focused on best practices, hot topics for IEPS, working with agents and marketing tools.
Have you been involved in any government discussions regarding issues within the ELT industry in the USA?
The advocacy team has worked very hard over the last 12 months with the continuing effort to introduce a bill requiring accreditation for IEPs. Senate Bill S. 3658, introduced by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), passed the Senate by Unanimous Consent on September 30, 2008. We continue to work on the House Bill (HR 7093) and at the time of this report we are not sure if it will pass before the end of the 110th Congress. However, we feel well positioned for the new legislative period, if and when further work has to be undertaken. AAIEP also continues to work both through regulations and legislation on short-term study issues.
What main challenges are your members currently facing when it comes to recruiting new students? Probably the biggest challenge continues to be the definition of short-term and the difficulty programmes face when advising students who want to come to the US for dual purposes: study and tourism. If the intention is study, students must apply for an F-1 visa. Yet, a student coming for a short-term of study, such as a three-week summer vacation program, has to pay the $200 Sevis fee and required visa application fee, the same fee required for someone coming for a year of university work. Current policies make short-term study of English as a tourist activity almost impossible.
What marketing activities are you planning for the near future? An AAIEP Agent Workshop offered through BMI was held in October 2008 with more than 20 AAIEP members participating. AAIEP sponsored events continue to help inform sponsors, students and agencies about the quality programs found in AAIEP. Marketing activities are also focusing on EnglishUSA as a recognizable name for our organization and the www.EnglishUSA.org address will now bring people to the AAIEP website.
• In a bid to stabilise the Indian aviation industry, Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines who have a combined domestic market share of nearly 60 per cent have joined forces to create a common alliance. The move will not only help both carriers cut costs, but it will also give the travelling public greater choice when it comes to flight availability, say the airlines. The alliance will include code shares on domestic and international routes, joint fuel management and cross-utilisation of crew. Naresh Goyal, Chairman of Jet Airways, said, “India has witnessed tremendous growth in the past that has slowed down considerably. In this environment, the Jet Airways Kingfisher alliance represents a completely new industrial model for India.”
• Poor sales and increased competition from rivals Delta and Continental has prompted British Airways (BA) to scrap their Manchester to New York route. The service, which has been operational for over 44 years, will instead be redeployed to London Gatwick. Fast becoming known as London Airways, the UK’s supposed national carrier has axed several services over the last few years, with many regional travellers now effectively having to fly to London for a connecting flight out of the country. A BA spokesman said, “We are fully committed to Manchester, giving customers in the North of England access to our worldwide networks at Heathrow and Gatwick with around 200 connecting flights a week.” Meanwhile, other major airlines appear to be picking up the slack; the likes of United Arab Emirates now operate flights from regional routes such as Newcastle, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham to Dubai and onwards to Asia, Africa and Australasia.
• According to a survey conducted by Trip Advisor, a free online travel guide, the British public are unfazed by the effect the credit crisis could have on their travel plans. The survey, which garnered the opinion of 850 Brits, said that 56 per cent of the nation’s travellers intended to spend more on leisure travel in the next 12 months than they had done previously, with a further 33 per cent admitting they would take up to as many as three holidays in 2009. Other interesting findings included those who could see airlines soon charging extra for window seats (56 per cent), the number of people who admitted to checking their work emails when abroad (49 per cent) and the high proportion of Brits that were comfortable with the new full body scanners used by airport security (80 per cent).
• Lufthansa, one of Europe’s largest airlines, has launched a new online community aimed at the college generation. GenFlyLoungeSM looks to give travel hungry students a real insight into life overseas with like-minded students offering up their views and opinions about a particular destination. Members can upload videos and photographs of their time abroad, post comments about what to do while there and the community even gives students the chance to rate things like accommodation. Brandon Vlasak, a student in the USA, said, “I’ve found it extremely valuable.”
• Government officials in Hong Kong have determined that the country’s inbound tourist trade needs to concentrate on emerging markets such as India, the Middle East and Russia if it wants to survive. With long-haul markets such as Europe, the Americas and Australasia all feeling the pinch, arrivals from India and Russia rose a respectable 8.8 per cent and 7.2 per cent respectively.
• A new device, which lets passengers keep their shoes on when going through airport security checks, is being trialled in Israel. The new step on scanner, called MagShoe, aims to alleviate some of the stress that passengers face when travelling abroad and is said to detect metal or dangerous bomb components. Nissim Ben-Ezra, Security Technologies Manager at Israel’s Airport Authority, said, “This innovation brings enormous logistical value as it significantly cuts down the discomfort and delays associated with standard shoe searches.” A bomb-sniffing version of MagShoe is said to be in the pipeline.
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