January 2009 issue

Agency News
Agency Survey
Market Report
Special Report
Course Guide
Regional Focus

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UK cautious

The UK study abroad industry is cautious, but agencies are thinking outside the box and relying on strong branding to see them through a recession.

Key points
• The total number of students placed by the six agencies in our survey was 3,113

• Three of the agencies surveyed dealt with placements in English-speaking countries too

• Average business growth was 10 per cent

Spain was the most popular destination for British students, followed by France

• The average length of stay for outbound British students was four weeks

Language learning was the mainstay of agency business, followed by higher education

No agency charged clients a handling fee

Top destinations Most popular courses
1. Spain 23%
2. France 20%
3. UK 11.5%
4. USA 10%
5. Cuba 8%
6. Germany 7%
7. Italy 6%
8. China 2%
Other 12.5%
1. General 37%
1. Intensive 26.5%
3. Summer vacation 8%
4. Language & work experience 6%
5. Academic / exam preparation 5%
6. University foundation 3.5%%
7. Business 3%
8. Junior 2%
Other 9%

Top languages Average percentage agency business
1. Spanish 38%
2. French 25%
3. English 13%
4. German 9%
4. Italian 9%
6. Chinese 2%
7. Japanese 1%
Other 3%
1. Language learning 78%
2. Higher ed. 10%
3. Internships 4%
4. Work & travel 3%
5. Volunteer 2%
Other 3%

How do agencies recruit students?
How do agencies find new business partners?
1. Word-of-mouth 30%
2. Website 27%
3. Advertising in press 11%
4. Mail shots 4%
5. Seminars to students 2%
6. Advertising on TV/radio 1%
Other 25%
1. Workshops 48%
2. Fairs & expos 22%
3. Internet 18%
4. LTM/ETM 10%
5. Other press 2%

Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
Acpet 60%
English Australia 40%

Languages Canada 40%

Souffle 60%
FLE.fr 60%
L'Office 60%
Unosel 60%

MEI~Relsa 60%

Asils 80%
Italian in Italy 20%

Feltom 40%

New Zealand
Ed. NZ 20%
English NZ 20%

Aeple 40%

South Africa
Eltasa 0%
English SA 20%

Fedele 80%

ABLS 60%
English UK 80%
British Council 100%

Accet 20%
CEA 0%

Eaquals 80%
Ialc 80%
Quality English 60%
Tandem 60%

Market growth
Of the six agencies that took part in this month’s Agency Survey on the UK, two posted a negative growth in 2008, while growth across other agencies ranged from six to 35 per cent (average 10 per cent). Those three agencies with the best growth figures all worked with English language learning destinations too, however, illustrating that there is possibly more buoyancy in this particular language learning market. These companies have spread their wings to become a global agency working with clients in more than one country, it seems. Regarding UK clients travelling, the prognosis for the future is cautious – agencies generally indicated that slow growth was possible, but much depends on the economy. One agency predicted that clients would remain loyal to companies with strong brands and a good name.

Language and destination trends
Spanish remains the most popular language to study abroad, as it was in our last survey of the UK market (see LTM, February 2006, pages 14-15), and Latin America and Cuba were cited as popular destinations, as well as Spain itself (in number-one position). French remains high up on the list but German and Italian were trailing English as a requested language. Indeed, one agency said that its English placements worldwide would expand much more rapidly than other languages. China made its first appearance in the league table, accounting for an average of two per cent of business.

Student and course trends
In our last survey, 36 per cent of clients were said to be studying for pleasure only, but there seems to have been a slight change here in terms of motivations to go abroad. While most agencies only indicated general reasons for travel without percentage statistics, it seemed that work or study were the two chief explanations for a study trip. One agency told us that “life enhancing reasons” were predominant, although another indicated that language and activity holidays were also popular. Just looking at outbound British students, the average length of stay was four weeks, up slightly from the 2.8 weeks recorded previously, although this rose to 11 weeks if UK-bound business was included.

Agency business
Although there was interest in work-oriented language learning, work and travel programmes did not represent a significant business sector overall among UK businesses. Language learning programmes (including language and activity holidays) represented 78 per cent of overall business, while higher education placements accounted for a further 13 per cent of business. Agencies relied on word-of-mouth primarily to recruit clients, followed closely by their website and “other” mediums which included online marketing and email promotions. Agencies represented, on average, 79 schools in 21 countries, and worked with a good number of these partners in the last 12 months – typically, 60.

Looking ahead
Agencies are cognisant of the fact that it is a difficult operating environment, and one agency drew attention to the relatively high value of the pound sterling as a negative pressure in 2008. All agencies said slow growth would be the best possible outcome, although there was confidence that such an outcome can be obtained in 2009.

Economic overview

• The UK economy is in recession and expected to contract by one per cent in 2009, the first year of negative growth since 1992.

• The UK government nationalised two banks and bailed out three others with UK£37 billion (US$59.3 billion) of taxpayers’ money last year.

• House prices are expected to fall 10 per cent in 2009, deepening losses seen in 2008, and unemployment is expected to rise. And the value of the pound against the euro hit an all-time low last year.
However, inflation is expected to fall, which will mean a drop in interest rates, leading economists to predict a short-lived recession may be likely.

Source: Reuters/Guardian.

UK agencies named a range of language programmes they work with, including, in Chile: Latin Immersion, Santiago. In China: JBC Centre (Tongji University International School), Shanghai. In Cuba: Caledonia Languages, Santiago de Cuba; Sprachcaffe, Havana. In France: Accord, Paris; Alpha B, Nice; BLS, various. In Spain: Escuela de Idiomas Nerja, Nerja; Estudio Sampere, various; Iria Flavia, Santiago de Compostela; Malaca Instituto, Malaga.

Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in our survey: Cactus Language, Caledonia Languages Abroad, CESA Languages Abroad, Global Training, Education & Consultancy Ltd., Lanacos UK; Red Dragon Languages Consultancy.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Britannia Student

Bridge Agency
Intellect Agency  

English Australia  
English UK  
MEI-Relsa Ireland  
Perth Education

Internet Advantage
Your World on

Malta Tourism

Alphe Conferences 
English Australia  
English UK  
MEI-Relsa Ireland 

Ability Education  
English Australia  
Geos International
      (Australia, Canada,
      Costa Rica,
      England, France,
      Ireland, Japan,
      Korea, Malta,
      New Zealand,
      Singapore, South
      Africa, Spain,
      Thailand, USA)
Perth Education

Ceran Lingua
      (Belgium, France,
      Spain, UK)
Hansa Language
      Centre of Toronto  
Saint Charles
      Garnier College  
Stewart College
      of Languages  

Ardmore Language
      Schools (UK, USA)
Bell International 
      (Malta, UK) 
Camp Beaumont  
Hampstead School
      of English  
IP International
      Projects GmbH  
      (England, France,
      Germany, Spain)
Kaplan Aspect  
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
LAL Language and
      (Canada, Cyprus,
      Ireland, England,
      South Africa, Spain,
      Switzerland, USA)
Millfield School  
      (Ireland, Italy,
      UK, USA)  
Prime Education  
Queen Ethelburga's
RLI Language
St Giles Colleges 
       (Canada, UK, USA) 
Study Group  
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa, Spain,
Twin Group 
      (Ireland, UK)  
University of Essex
       - International
Wimbledon School
      of English  

Langues Sans

Carl Duisberg
      (England, Germany) 
F+U Academy  
      (Germany, Spain)
inlingua Berlin  
      House Berlin -

Kai Japanese
      Language School  
      Language School  

      Language School  
Iels - Institute of
      English Language
inlingua Malta  

Centro Marista de
      Idiomas - Cemadi  

Fern English  
Leisure Learn
Seafield School
      of English  
Unique New
      Zealand Education

North West
      Academy of

Active English  
Clare Language
ISI - International
      Study Institute
Language College
MEI-Relsa Ireland  

EAC Language
      Centres and
      Activity Camps.  
      (England, Ireland,
      Scotland, Wales)
Glasgow School
      of English  
University of

Cape Studies  

Castila - Centro de
International House
      Sevilla - Clic  
Malaca Instituto -
      Club Hispanico SL  

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Ecuador,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, Malta, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Scotland, Spain,
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Italy,
      Japan, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Switzerland, USA)

Prem Tinsulanonda
      Center for

Boston Academy
      of English  
EF International
      Language Schools  
ELS Language
Global Language
University of
University of
      Nevada Reno  
University of
      South Carolina  
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)