||CEC Network re-emerges to controversy in Brazil
The Canadian Education Centre Network (CECN), which closed in June last year (see LTM, September 09, page 7), has re-emerged thanks to an injection of funds from an angel investor, rumoured to be a Montreal-based businessman in the industry.
However, the CECN in its new guise is ruffling feathers in Brazil, where it has announced it is operating as a commercial student recruitment agency like any other. This news was made public shortly after it organised a student fair under its EduCanada brand, which was promoted by Brazilian national agency association, Belta, and attended by some of Belta’s members as paid exhibitors.
Belta feels CECN in Brazil poses unfair competition because it has a perception of being government-backed and previously never sold directly to clients, referring them to agency partners. Belta has written to many Canadian schools to explain this position. “We have received many replies from Canadian schools as well as from Languages Canada supporting Belta’s position,” said Maura Leão at the association. She added, “Brazilian students are also contacting Belta asking what the CECN is, if it is an educational agency or not.”
The CECN had not responded to questions regarding their operations from Language Travel Magazine at the time of going to press. In a statement on the CECN website, Philippe Cardin, Vice President of Operations at the network, explained that some difficult decisions have had to be made. “I want to take this opportunity to announce to one and all that the storm has now passed and that we are now once again fully operational,” he wrote. “Having been given a new lease of life, the CEC Network has now set its course towards a much brighter future.”
The restructuring that has occurred so far, as stated on the website, is the closure of the group’s office in Mexico, and the Indonesia sub-office of Surabaya. Canadian operations are currently all taking place out of the Vancouver office and there is a new Country Director, Carolina Cardosa, in Brazil.
Vieca in Vietnam holds training conference
Vietnamese agency association, Vieca, organised a professional training event for its members and other agencies in the country last year, which was deemed a great success. After three days of training, delegates took a 20-question test, and 49 of the 59 attending agencies passed and received a certificate of professional achievement.
Dao Lien Huong of the Vieca board explained that the certificate was jointly issued by Vieca and the Vietnamese Department of PR and Advertising, which is part of the government-recognised Institute of Journalism and Communication. She noted, “We also received support from embassies, the British Council, airlines, insurance companies and banks as well as schools.”
The training programme provided an analysis of visa issues in each of the main study destinations, while loans for study abroad, marketing strategies and refund policies were also examples of topics addressed. The programme included explanations about global agency federation, Felca, as well as Thai agency association Tieca, and Taiwanese agency association, Tosa with representatives from both of these associations also attending.
“This was a big promotion for Vieca and a get-together for all members of Vieca,” said Huong. “All participants wanted such a course regularly however we will learn from [the experiences of] Tieca and separate a three-day training course for new attendees from a one-day training course for experienced professionals.”
Autumn event roundup
A number of autumn events for agents were staged last year, such as the ICEF Latin America workshop, the Alphe Russia conference and the English UK São Paulo fair. In Brazil, ICEF held its inaugural workshop and welcomed 85 institutions and 110 agencies from across Latin America such as Brazil, Colombia and Chile. The organiser stated that 99 per cent of delegates found the event to be a great success.
Meanwhile, English UK, along with trade partners, held a UK-exclusive workshop at Sofitel Jequitimar Guaruja in São Paulo state. Thirty-two English UK members convened with 39 agencies. “The success and popularity of these fairs is based on their unique small size and friendly atmosphere,” said Jodie Gray at English UK.
Finally, the Alphe Russia agent conference was held for the fifth time in St Petersburg, welcoming 56 educators and 82 agencies. Jane Gilham, Alphe Manager, said that the event yielded good business for all attendees, as usual.
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, IS Aix-en-Provence in France nominates Språkreisebyrået, Norway. Anna Clara Sainte-Rose, Sales & Marketing Manager, explains this decision.
“The agency I would like to nominate is Språkreisebyrået in Norway, whom we have worked with for a very long time. It is very difficult to nominate a specific agency since we work with so many excellent ones, but I chose this particular agency in order to encourage them. It is far from being one of our biggest agencies, but very steady in terms of business. They know very well the schools they work with and give good advice to clients. This is for us the main quality required for a good agency partner, since it avoids most problems [that may occur] once the students are on the spot: the right student always comes to the right school! When you add to this that the cooperation and communication between us and them is always very smooth and friendly and that they always pay on time, they have all the qualities required for being an excellent agency.”
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Which countries and course types will gain in popularity in 2010, in your opinion?
Siegfried Seidel, Seidel Sprachreisen - Center International Gera, Germany
“I think popularity is still with the UK and Malta, as relates to learning English. As usual, the most popular are short courses of two-to-four weeks in business and refresher programmes. As our region is characterised by a high unemployment rate, price and opportunity motivate learners and anyway, visiting the USA at present is still complicated because of bureaucracy.”
Mamiko Tagutschi, CEO, Cosmolingua, Switzerland
“English is becoming an increasingly important language for future careers in Switzerland. So it is certain that the bookings for English schools will be increasing in 2010. Students prefer to book shorter but more intensive courses. Due to the recent economic crisis, students are more aware of what they spend their money on. They are seeking a good quality school but with very reasonable prices. Students would like to explore more during their stay abroad, not only learning the language but also experiencing day and night life in a big city and the surroundings. Because of the short flight and very cheap flight costs, England is becoming more and more popular.”
Jorge Taboada, Director, Universities & Schools of America, Argentina
“We are in a challenging, changing world. And this includes education. Education is the way to get better jobs, better salaries, and better income. In 2010, central countries will continue attracting students’ interest because this will be the way to get international corporate positions or entrepreneurial possibilities. Also the faster growing Asian countries will attract international students. Language courses will continue being a must because they give the foundation for [further] development. Pricing, an attractive destination, an institution’s reputation and programme quality are the key factors to choose an educational programme abroad.”
Kate Clarke, Al Ahlam Higher Education Services, Oman“
In the Middle East, the UK continues to be the No.1 destination for language study abroad because it is so reachable. Price is a big factor for most students so low-cost tickets are a determining factor, combnied with short flying time. The reputation for high quality and huge choice is also a big pull for them but most of all is the ease with which Omanis feel they can integrate and adapt to UK life and culture. Obtaining a visa is straighforward and the rejection rate is extremely low.”
On the move
Market Manager, Philip Mumford, has left Twin Group in the UK. During his six years at Twin, Mr Mumford opened and developed many key markets and created Twin’s now well known football partnership with Chelsea Football Club. Although still responsible for Twin’s Thai market sales on a consultancy basis, Mr Mumford will be focusing on his new company Lexford, offering a wide range of student, school and agent services.
The Bell Educational Trust has announced the depar-ture of its Chief Executive, David Pottinger, who leaves the organisation in early 2010 to take up a new position with Obeikan Research and Development (ORD), one of Bell’s key strategic partners in the Middle East. Mr Pottinger joined Bell at the end of 2005 and, since then, has implemented a highly successful strategy of growth and expansion, which has seen the launch of 10 new Bell centres worldwide, including the Trust’s flagship new international school in Kent.
Rafaela Rolim, who previously worked for World Study agency in Brazil, has launched her own independent company, Brazilian Experience (BE), which will focus on inbound students travelling to Brazil. World Study has outsourced its inbound delivery to BE, which also works with other local agencies. Ms Rolim said, “Rio de Janeiro has just been elected to host the 2016 Olympic Games and Brazil will also host the 2014 World Cup. We are very confident Brazil will grow as a destination.”
Lianne Hodgson, formerly of Languages Abroad in Toronto, Canada, recently made the cross-Canada move. She is now enjoying the crisp mountain air and fresh powder in beautiful Whistler, BC, working as the Marketing Director for International House Whistler, promoting their English Work-study, Junior, Ski, Snowboard and Mountain Bike programmes.
The Language Centre of Ireland (LCI), located in Dublin, Ireland and The New England School of English (NESE) in Boston, USA, have recently chosen Luiza Meyer, from Brazil, to be their Marketing Executive for Latin America. Ms Meyer been working as an education consultant for high school and language programmes for the past 15 years. Based in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, she will visit and give support to agents in her own country, Argentina and Chile. She will also promote NESE in France.
Learn2Lingo launches online teaching
The world of language learning now has a new dimension with the launch of a teacher-on-demand service available over the Internet. Learn2Lingo launched last year and offers 30-minute lessons via a webcam online for a cost of e9.50 (US$14).
Learn2Lingo’s Managing Direc-tor, Shira Rubin, explained that the company has already created part-nerships with 20 language schools as well as many independent teachers. Language students using the website can seek out Learn2Lingo lessons either as an add-on to learning in-country at a language school or as a stand-alone project.
“Learn2Lingo aims to become the number-one website for online personal language tuition,” said Rubin, who explained that it was a friend of hers, who was travelling across town to take evening Spanish classes and often missing them because of other commitments or fatigue, which gave her the idea for the concept.
Language schools that partner with the company are able to restrict their students to only being able to access teachers who work with their school. Rubin explained, “Our trial with language schools enabled us to receive feedback and suggestions; consequently we re-designed the website to suit the needs of language schools.” She added, “Our platform offers huge earning potential.”
Learn2Lingo is creating partner-ships with corporate clients to offer an option for employee training, as well as linking up with Lonely Planet which features the website as one of its travel service options.
The online classroom that Learn2Lingo has developed uses flash-based two-way live streaming technology, so both tutor and student can see and hear each other, as well as text chat and send and receive teaching materials. “We have developed some teaching resources specifically designed for an online classroom and schools and teachers are able to upload their own teaching resources within the classroom,” explained Rubin.
Babbel.com wins EU funding
Online language learning site, Babbel.com, has gained funding from the EU’s European Funds for Regional Development as well as the state of Berlin to “significantly advance its unique brand of online language learning”.
The website offers tuition in five languages English, German, French, Spanish and Italian and has existed since January 2008. New innovative technology is promised as a result of the funding, which will be matched by e200,000 (US$296,736) of funding from Lesson Nine, the German company behind Babbel.com. Its Managing Director, Markus Witte, said, “We want to concentrate on the learner and optimise the product for them, not for the advertisers,” pointing out that the site is ad-free.
The site was set up using venture capital and plans to build finance through user fees. It currently has 500,000 users.
City & Guilds opens in Malta
City & Guilds, based in the UK, has approved its first exam centres to deliver International Esol qualifications in Malta EF in St Julians and Easy School of Languages in Valletta. The organi-sation claimed that this was as a result of identifying the needs of learners in the region and matching them with the solution offered by its International Esol test.
The new centres will offer increased flexibility in assessment, according to Artur Rego at City & Guilds. He explained that learners have the freedom to choose whether to sit the written or the spoken exam only, or gain the International Diploma by successfully passing both. Assessment is on demand, meaning each centre can choose the most suitable dates throughout the year for exams.
He said, “This is an exciting development in language education in Malta, with future potential to expand to incorporate and deliver results for yet more businesses and learners in this dynamic market.” Further centres are expected to be opened in the country in due course.
City & Guilds operates in 81 countries worldwide, providing qualifications to1.6 million learners every year. The company has been concentrating on expanding its outreach in recent years. In addition to its new centres in Malta, the company has also recently opened a new hub in Dubai and announced the launch of training company IndiaSkills, a joint venture in India with Manipal Education (see ETM, Dec 2009, page 19).
ISIC teams up with MasterCard
Another credit card concept has been rolled out for the international student market, but this time, it is a co-branded ISIC international student identity card that entitles holders to discounts on various products and services worldwide, as well as a MasterCard.
Martijn van de Veen, General Manager of ISIC, said he believed the link-up would create “a truly valuable product for students”. The new card has already launched in banks across France and is now being rolled out globally through MasterCard’s international network of issuers.
“Through our partnership with ISIC, we’ve been able to engineer the next generation student card empowering it with global payment capability to meet today’s student needs,” says Ann Ehlen at MasterCard Europe. “Our first issuer has launched in France and a number of other markets are now also keen to feature it.”
May Arthur, President of American association, AAIEP, answers our questions about the association’s goals.
Full name: American Association of Intensive English Programme
Year established: 1986
Number of members: 273
Type of members: Accredited schools, Intensive English Programmemes in the USA
Association’s main role: Promotes ethical and professional standards for Intensive English Programmes, advocates with both government and nongovernment entities, and increases visibility abroad of member programmes
Government recognition: Member programmes are accredited by accrediting bodies that have US Department of Education recognition
Code of practice: To adhere to all AAIEP standards and the standards of the accrediting body
Complaints procedure: Yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: None
AAIEP Central Office
229 North 33rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19014-2709 USA
T: +1 2158955856, F: +1 2158955854
What has your association been up to in the last 12 months?
AAIEP continues to support legislative solutions in requiring that all English language training programmes in the United States be accredited in order to enroll non-immigrant students. Currently, AAIEP has a bill in both the House and the Senate of the US Congress and has support from the two accrediting bodies for intensive English programmes; Accet and CEA. In addition, AAIEP continues to support its members and the industry through outreach, advocacy, and standards. AAIEP is currently exploring means to expand its exposure and subsequent exposure of its member programmes through marketing initiatives. In the autumn, AAIEP held its second annual professional workshop, providing a forum for members to share professional expertise.
Please tell us about recent political campaigning.
AAIEP held its second annual advocacy day in Washington DC in October 2009, to create awareness in Congress on the importance of the proposed accreditation bill [for all English language schools teaching international students] that has been introduced both in the House and the Senate, and to gain the necessary support for the passage of the bill.
What main challenges are your members currently facing?
Declining enrollments in summer were noted across junior and adult programmes, compared with 2008. The global economic crisis and H1N1 (swine) flu impact [was felt], especially on Asian numbers. And Sevis II [the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System] Immigration reporting requirements are set to change beginning in 2010 and this will impact AAIEP member programmes in how enquiries, admissions, and enrollments are processed and handled with the US Department of Homeland Securities. While the impact to the student should be in a positive direction with more control over the individual immigration record the impact to schools will task financial and human resources. The transition to the new system Sevis II once completed, should have positive effects in student mobility to the USA.
What marketing activities are you planning for the near future?
AAIEP attended ICEF Miami in December 2009, and in addition, AAIEP members will be featured at a Nafsa 2010 Poster Session. The Poster Session, “An Intensive English Programme Fair: Highlighting Programme Innovation,” will highlight innovative practices that work which will allow for conversations around shared practices and commitments to international education, quality assurance and student services. The idea behind this new fair is one of improving practice and achieving excellence in educational settings both here and abroad. The Nafsa Conference takes place in May.
• Tokyo’s Haneda Airport is to turn into a hub for international flights after Japanese Transport Minister, Seiji Maehara, announced plans to build a third terminal operating twenty-four hours a day. “Many passengers from Japan’s regional airports go abroad by way of South Korea’s Incheon Airport,” said Maehara. “Japan needs its own international hub.” Haneda is in closer proximity to central Tokyo than the country’s main international airport: Narita. At present Haneda predominantly handles domestic flights and it is scheduled to expand its capacity by 110,000 slots next autumn, approximately half of which will be assigned to international flights.
• The UK government increased Airport Duty Tax by up to 112 per cent in November. A poll for the World Travel Market shows this will cause a decline in Britons holidaying overseas: 52 per cent of the 1,030 people asked said they would reduce their travel and 13 per cent would avoid holidaying overseas. The tax has been called an environmental tax and is being challenged by airlines, tourist boards and industry associations. Perry Wilson, Founder of travel insurance provider InsureandGo, said, “There are absolutely no environmental grounds for the increase.”
• A decrease in the number of foreign visitors going to Spain is continuing to affect the country’s tourism industry, which accounts for approximately 11 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. Visits to Spain by Germans have fallen by 14.2 per cent, while the number of British visitors has decreased by 10.4 per cent. The National Statistics Institute (INE) said that due to a 10.6 per cent fall among non-residents, overnight stays in Spain fell by 5.5 per cent in July and 5 per cent in August 2009 compared with 2008 figures.
• Garuda Indonesia will re-open its European services from June 2010 with the EU’s approval. Several airlines including Garuda were banned from flying to Europe because they failed to oversee airline safety standards in line with EU requirements. Now, CEO of Garuda, Emirsyah Satar, has reinvented the airline; financial and operational restructuring has seen the airline return to profit. “We had to remind ourselves that we are not a transportation company but a travel company that means the customer comes first,” commented Satar. Garuda’s first European destined departure is from Jakarta, Indonesia to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
• German Airline Air Berlin has formed a code-share agreement with Thailand’s Bangkok Airways. This will allow the latter to connect Air Berlin’s passengers to Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations, such as Koh Samui, Phuket, and Chiang Mai, under the same flight code. The airlines will operate four non-stop services a week from Duesseldorf, three from Berlin-Tegel and two from Munich to Bangkok.
• Richard Branson has introduced a Flying Without Fear application for iPhones to help ease anxious passengers on long-haul airline Virgin Atlantic Airways. Developed with Mental Workout, a company focused on helping people resolve issues and improve mental performance, the application provides a video-based explanation of a flight, FAQs, relaxation exercises and a fear attack button for emergencies with breathing exercises.
• The Lonely Planet guide books have previously criticised London for its ‘wincingly expensive’ prices, but the lessening value of the pound has led to claims that London is one of the world’s top 10 best-value destinations. Tom Hall, Lonely Planet Editor, said, “It may seem a surprising inclusion but as a direct result of the economic crisis, London has become much more accessible to foreign visitors.” Budget accommodation has improved significantly and there are growing opportunities for money saving activities such as free museums.
• Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has predicted that Australia and New Zealand will outpace the rest of the world in terms of passenger growth. John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, said that airlines in the South Pacific would require an additional 630 new aircraft in the next 20 years as traffic in the region grows by five per cent per year. The forecast predicts that Australia and New Zealand’s proximity to the emerging Asian economies of China and India leave them well placed to take advantage of better business conditions.
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