Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Have you noticed any new destination trends amongst your clientele?
Julia Hong, Uhak.com, Korea
“Our students’ top destination is the USA, followed by Canada, Japan, Australia and the UK. The Philippines has become our quickest growing market, since we launched a programme for that country in 2007. English courses in Philippine schools are usually composed of two hours of one-to-one, two hours of one-to-four, two hours of one-to-eight, as well as additional group classes each day. This may seem quite intensive, but the cost is competitive and attractive from the students’ viewpoint. As well, many schools there are actually operated by Koreans, which means they can better communicate with our Korean students, while offering them a comfortable environment, food, facilities and so on, in a foreign environment. Another strongpoint is that as they offer small class sizes, which creates greater opportunity for the nurturing of each student’s speaking ability. Regarding non-English speaking destinations, Japan has been one of our students’ favourite choices, but it has not been growing as quickly this past year, due to the strength of the yen, making study choices less affordable for many of our students; however, there is still a strong interest in learning the Japanese language.”
Jiratti Chantarak, Centory, Thailand
“The popular destinations for Thai students who desire to study are Australia, the UK and the USA because of well-known institutes and the high quality of education. We are currently sending most students to Australia and the UK. The Singapore market has been growing up in the past few years, especially in 2010. Due to changes in Australian immigration, many students changed their destination to Singapore because not only can they learn English but also they will have chance to learn and speak Chinese. In addition, the advantage of location is one factor to consider. Singapore is just two-to-three hours from Thailand by plane. Travelling within Singapore is also convenient because it is one of the most extensive and efficient public transportation systems in the world. Other than English-speaking destinations, there are countries such as Japan and China that Thai students prefer to go to but it is still a small proportion when compared with English-speaking destinations. After the changes to Australian immigration rules and the situation in Thailand, many Thai students may consider these markets more and as a trend it will grow in the next few years.”
Toyo Keiyama, Britain Reservation Centre, Japan
“The USA and the UK are quite steady destinations. But now we see new destinations for learning the English language. We realise not necessarily English speaking countries. I think Koreans always find new places first like Bali (Indonesia) and resort islands in the Philippines. Their selling point is price and location that is quite easy to access. This is one of the examples of cheaper study abroad but the reputation is not so good yet. I am sure there are markets for English learners in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines but again, these are small in Japan, and we are not recommending these at the moment. Apart from English, the big trend is to learn Chinese that is for sure. Also Korean [language programmes] have boomed due to Korean TV dramas’ influence. A new trend is study at home using Skype. Especially busy business people like this style. The student market is shrinking but the market for English for business people is increasing. One of the reasons is more and more corporations in Japan are facing severe competition in the export field, and the English ability has become essential.”
On the move
Georgina Chahed has joined TUI Travel PLC’s Education Division as PR Manager Corporate Education. The appointment has been made to focus on the public relations for TUI Travel PLC’s Education Division in its Activity Sector, in response to an increased demand for trips for students of all ages. Ms Chahed’s role will be specifically focused on B2B and corporate PR for the division.
English Australia (EA) has appointed Mandy Cooper as Profiling & Promotions Officer at the association. “I look forward to developing EA’s marketing strategy and working with EA member colleges to promote the quality English language training programmes they provide,” said Ms Cooper.
Linda Polkowski has returned to Anglolang Academy of English in Scarborough, UK as Vice Principal. After initially spending 10 enjoyable years as Director of Studies at Anglolang Academy from 1996-2006, she went on to become Head of the International Department at Queen Ethelburga’s College in York. Ms Polkowski is looking forward to fresh responsibilities in her new role.
Rob McKay, owner of CCEL Christchurch and former English New Zealand Chair, has been appointed to the Board of Education New Zealand (ENZ). Mr McKay said, “I hope to bring an ELS perspective to the governance of ENZ. Aligning the work of ENZ with all education sectors is crucial and their needs are different.”
Michael Dewar has recently joined EC in the UK as Regional Sales Manager for the Middle East. Previously at Shane Global, Mr Dewar is very excited at helping EC’s partners to recruit students for language programmes and academic courses from across the Arab speaking world to its destinations in the UK, USA, South Africa and Malta. Mr Dewar speaks fluent Spanish and French and is learning Arabic for his new role.
Alexander Gerasimenko, Director of education agency Litera Scripta Manet in Moscow was elected as a Chairman of the Board of the Russian Association of Educational Consultants (AREA). AREA was founded in 2007 and unites more than 20 Russian education agencies from Moscow, Ufa, Samara and Krasnoyarsk. “AREA members hope that the association will be able to make agencies’ work more productive,” he said.
Endsleigh introduce student budgeting solution
UK-based insurance provider, Endsleigh, has teamed up with Tuxedo Money Solutions, a leading prepaid card provider, to offer students a responsible way to control their finances while away from home.
The Endsleigh Prepaid Student MasterCard works in the same way as pay-as-you-go mobile phones, with students required to top up prepaid amounts before they can use the facility. Unlike debit or credit cards, which require a bank account, however, the prepaid card only allows students to spend the amount they have preloaded thus minimising the risk of fraud and curbing spending habits.
Students and parents can top up credit balances via eccount a facility operated by Tuxedo Money Solutions and issuing bank, Newcastle Building Society where funds are safely handled and released onto issued cards. Account balances can be checked 24-hours-a-day online, by phone or via text message and free SMS alerts notify students when card balances are low or need topping up. “We are delighted to offer students another product which is ideal for budgeting,” stated Rebecca Heard, an Endsleigh spokesperson. “This can be used anywhere the MasterCard logo is displayed and be topped up instantly by the cardholder or parent by phone, text message or online.”
According to John Sharman, CEO of Tuxedo Money Solutions, students will be able to use the card at some 30 million locations and 1.5 million ATM’s around the world. “The card will offer students a new sense of security,” he said.
Costing just UK£9.95 (US$15.95) to purchase, students can apply for the prepaid card via Endsleigh’s website; www.endsleigh.co.uk.
Village homestays for students
In a new initiative from OJM Travel, students travelling to Nepal will soon be able to immerse themselves in the Nepali way of life by living with villagers in some of the remotest parts of the Himalayas.
The Village Home Stay experience will see young volunteers living side by side with the Nepali people. In return, students will be able to contribute to the community by teaching English and mathematics to the village children, share health and medical knowledge, help to build water supply networks, gett involved in wildlife conservation projects and contribute to local farming initiatives.
British Council partners phone operator
Telekom Network Malawi (TNM), a mobile phone network provider based in Malawi, has teamed up with the British Council to offer free English lessons to Malawian students via their TNM mobile phones.
Julian Baker, British Council Country Director in Malawi, said at the launch, “This is the easiest way for one to access UK skills, ideas and materials through our global English programmes.” TNM Chief Executive Officer, Warner Schrijver, commended the British Council for partnering with his phone company in a move that would be of benefit to many Malawians.
New Korean language exam for foreigners
The Korean government is developing a new test of Korean to measure the proficiency of Korean language learners in a bid to cater for the fast-rising number of foreigners seeking education and employment opportunities in the country.
The Education Ministry and the National Institute for International Education announced that the new exam, entitled A-TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean), will follow a similar format to academic English-speaking exams, GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and Toefl.
The government hopes to introduce the language exam in the 2012/13 academic year and while similar to the existing TOPIK model, the new version will include a speaking test in addition to grammar, reading, listening and writing modules.
Transatlantic collaboration promises internationally recognised language exam
University of Cambridge Esol Examinations and the University of Michigan English Language Institute Testing and Certification Division have partnered to promote the portfolio of Michigan English language exams and services on a global scale.
It is hoped the new tie up will provide learners the world over with access to high quality, internationally recognised language qualifications, with both organisations supporting the need for a range of tests, as opposed to generic, one-size-fits-all, solutions.
The new division, now known as Cambridge-Michigan Language Assessments, will offer four international testing programmes (previously offered by the University of Michigan English Language Institute). These include: the Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English (ECPE); the Examination for the Certificate of Competency in English (ECCE); the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) and the Michigan English Test (MET).
Dr Michael Milanovic, CEO of Cambridge Esol, said, “There is enormous synergy between our two organisations. We are both university-based, not-for profit exam boards, committed to high-quality assessment and to supporting research and learning, and we both have teams of highly qualified staff.”
This collaboration will not affect existing Cambridge Esol or Ielts test models..
The International Association of Language Centres has welcomed a number of new members in the last year and plans to further increase brand recognition in the future. Jan Capper, Executive Director of Ialc, answers our questions.
Full name: International Association of Language Centres
Year established: 1983
Number of members: 106
Type of members: 75 full, 31 associate (branches of full members)
Association’s main role: accreditation, promotion and professional networking for independent language schools
Government recognition: desirable where applicable
Code of practice: yes code of ethics, bylaws, quality assurance scheme
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: yes
Lombard House, 12/17 Upper Bridge Street, Canterbury, CT1 2NF, UK
Tel: +44 1227769007
Fax: +44 1227769014
What has your association been up to in the last 12 months?
In the last year Ialc has welcomed eight new members in France, Italy, Japan, England, Ireland, Malta, New Zealand and Scotland. We also took roadshows (marketing missions for Ialc schools) to Istanbul, Russia, Colombia, Panama and the UAE and held our annual workshop in Galway, Ireland, in April 2010. On the accreditation side, we have been reviewing our inspection scheme and inspectors are currently piloting the revised process around the world.
How was your workshop in Galway received?
We received very positive feedback on the event, thanks in large part to the organisational and creative energy of a capable and proactive team at the host school, Galway Cultural Institute in Galway. They faced the last-minute logistical nightmare of the Iceland volcano with amazing nerves and produced a workshop to remember. It is also a tribute to the attending schools, agents and exhibitors that there were hardly any cancellations despite continuing flight uncertainty. Each year we work hard to improve on the previous year’s workshop and this makes our next workshop in Shanghai in April 2011 even more of a challenge!
What factors are currently impacting on international student numbers at your member schools (good or bad)?
The world economic situation has affected members in different ways depending on their location and markets. Volatility in the currency markets is making some popular destinations more expensive, but other destinations are experiencing an upturn. Rising fuel costs have pushed up airline ticket prices, placing a further burden on potential students with a limited study travel budget, but there are signs of a recovery going into 2011.
What marketing activities are you planning for the near future?
We have roadshows coming up in Kazakhstan and Brazil, and our next two major workshops are in Shanghai, China (2011) and Toronto, Canada (2012). After a brand refresh, we’ve updated our website and re-translated it into nine different languages. Our key aims are to increase the number of Ialc Partner Agencies, improve our service to agents and build brand recognition in new and existing marketplaces.
• Passengers travelling with Garuda Indonesia on direct flights from Sydney to Jakarta will soon be able to have their visa applications processed by officials onboard. The visa process, which was launched on the airline’s Tokyo-Denpasar-Jakarta route in February last year, will essentially enable passengers to avoid notorious airport queues by fast tracking through immigration. At the launch last year, Culture and Tourism Minister, Jero Wacik, noted that the service was expected to boost the number of tourists travelling to the region.
• Low-cost carrier, Ryanair, has threatened to cancel nine routes out of its Frankfurt-Hahn hub this year if the German government makes good on its plan to raise air passenger tax by between e8 (US$11) and e45 (US$63) per flight. German airlines’ association, BDF, warned that passenger volume would drop by as much as five million per year if the tax hike were approved. However, Ryanair’s Deputy Chief Executive, Michael Cawley, clarified that the airline was not necessarily “closing business” in Hahn. “We’re just saying that we have one million passengers there who are not willing to pay e8 (US$11) more per ticket,” he explained. Other airlines, including Lufthansa subsidiary airline, Germanwings, have said they may reconsider plans to expand their services in the financial capital if the tax increases.
• Chilean-based carrier, LAN, is to acquire a 99 per cent stake in Colombian low-cost airline, Aires, for an estimated US$32.5 million. The deal, which is subject to final regulatory approval, comes just months after the airline informed officials that it was considering buying start-up carrier, AerOasis. Aires will become an affiliate carrier, joining a network of passenger carrier affiliates the airline has operating out of Argentina, Ecuador and Peru. Aires currently has a fledgling international network consisting of flights to Fort Lauderdale in the USA, the Panamanian capital, Maracaibo in Venezuela and the island nations of Aruba and Curacao.
• Lufthansa has reported it will phase out smaller aircraft on European routes and introduce a new wave of A380 superjumbos on long haul flights in a bid to increase capacity by six to 12 per cent. “The successive renewal of the fleet with larger and more fuel-efficient aircraft types automatically leads to an increase in seating capacity,” confirmed Stephan Gemkow, Finance Chief for the airline. Meanwhile, the airline has also revealed its intention to grow its presence in the South America and African markets during the winter season. A five-times-weekly flight from Frankfurt to Bogotá in Colombia resumed at the end of October last year, following the route’s cancellation in 2002. Flights from Frankfurt to Pointe Noire in the Republic of the Congo will also operate five-times-a-week, and include a stopover in Libraville in Gabon. The aircraft carrier has added five new African destinations to its route network in the last three years.
• British Airways (BA) has announced it is back in the black for the first time in two years despite adverse market conditions that could have thwarted its recovery. The airline accrued a profit of UK£158 million (US$253.6 million) from April to September last year, double the amount analysts had forecast previously. Chief Executive, Willy Walsh, said, “Our focus on permanent structural change will continue. This summer we agreed a new productivity deal with our Heathrow terminal-based staff that will provide a more flexible, cost-efficient and customer focused ground operation.” The announcement coincides with the still pending BA-Iberia merger.
• Launching a new Manila to Singapore service, Air Philippines, has entered the international market in a bid to compete with rival airline, Gokongwei-led Cebu Air. “Singapore’s vibrant travel enthusiasts have responded to this new offering and the fast growing Philippine based low-cost carrier is enjoying brisk sales in anticipation of the holidays,” said a statement issued by the company. “Travellers out of Singapore to the Philippines have been very receptive of our start of operations,” it added. The airline plans to spend US$250 million on growing its fleet of aircraft to 18 over the next three years. This venture is part of a growing trend that has seen several domestic budget carriers in the Asia region adding international services. Jeju Air, Korea’s biggest budget airline, recently announced that it planned to start flying between Incheon, Korea and Hong Kong as well as services to Manila and Macau. It is predicted that 2011 could well see larger airlines competing with budget carriers on as many as 10 international routes.
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