January 2012 issue

News Round Up
Inside the industry
Advisor Survey
Secondary Focus 1
Secondary Focus 2
Tertiary Focus 1
Tertiary Focus 2
Vocational Focus
Special Report
Course Guide
Market Analysis

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Market Analysis:

In this our first ever Market Analysis feature, we assess Malta’s English language teaching market in 2010 and ask providers to comment, at large, on how business has fared over the last 12 months.

Malta’s marketing budget by region (overall %) Foreign students following courses in specialised schools for English language, by country of origin, 2010
W Europe 48%
C&E Europe 38%
Asia 9%
Middle East 2%
Africa 2%
Latin America 1%
Italy 22%
Germany 17%
Spain 15%
Russia 10%
France 9.5%
Austria 4%
Switzerland 3%
Czech Republic 2%
Poland 2%
Turkey 1.5%
Other 14%

In my class there are... Average cost of a one-month course, excluding accommodation: €545 (US$753)

Average cost of residential accommodation per week: €161 (US$222)

Average cost of host family accommodation per week: €177 (US$244)
1. The right amount of students (66%)
2. Too many students who speak my language 17%
3. Too many students from one other country 10%
4. Too many students 1%

Top nationalites in Malta by student weeks - according to schools, 2010 Overall average length of stay 2.8 weeks

Average hours of language tuition per week
Spanish 16%
German 16%
Russian 16%
Italian 12%
French 7%
Turkish 4%
Korean 4%
Swiss 4%
Austrian 3%
Japanese 2%
50% of students booked through an agent or advisor

Commission Student numbers by age range
22% is the average commission paid on a language course

Three of the institutions profiled paid commission on accommodation

8-11: 2%
12-15: 13%
16-18: 24%
18-24: 23%
25-30: 18%
30-50: 14%
50+: 3%

Means of recruiting students in Malta, 2010 (schools) How did you find your programme? (students)
Advisors 72%
Internet 21%
Local bookings 4%
Other means 3%
I found it on the Internet 41%
It was recommended by a friend/relative 28%
It was recommended by an advisor 20%
Other 11%

In my class there are... To practise English with native speakers is ...
...just the right amount of students and mix of nationalities 58%
...too many students who speak my language 20%
...too many students from one other country 15%
...too many students 6%
(No reply 1%)
Quite easy 55%
Very easy 26%
Quite hard 17%
Very hard 2%

Total marketing spend by sector and by category in %
Agency costs 40%
Commission 30%
Incentives 3%
Agency brochures 7%

Travel costs 39%
Agent workshops 12%
Student exhibitions 3%
Advisor visits to school 8%
Entertainment 2%
Trips to agencies 14%
Publicity costs 21%
Brochure, video etc 3%
Internet 18%

Student reasons for school selection included:
“The school is situated in a nice area and the teachers are good”
“Price, number of students per class, situation”
“Good accommodation”

Key points in STM survey Malta
Number of participating organisations: 7
Total number of students at the organisations in 2010: 50,765
Total number of student weeks in 2010, estimated: 142,142
Participating schools: Chamber College, Gzira; English Language Academy, Sliema; inlingua School of Languages Malta, Sliema; Clubclass Residential Language School, St. Julian’s; Iels LAL Language Centre, Sliema; am Language Studio, Sliema; EC Malta, St. Julian’s.

Malta student feedback at a glance
Total number of students: (female 47, male 30, unknown 1) 78
Average age in years: 27
Average number of students in class: 8
Participating schools: Alpha School of English, St. Paul’s Bay; BELS, St. Paul’s Bay; Chamber College, Gzira; Clubclass Residential Language School, St. Julian’s; English Language Academy, Sliema; Global Village, St Paul’s Bay; International House Malta-Gozo, various; NSTS, Gzira; Sprachcaffe Languages Plus, Pembroke; inlingua School of Languages Malta, Sliema.

Following two years of exceptional growth in 2007 and 2008, English language teaching schools in Malta experienced a sharp decline in student enrolments in 2009. According to the National Statistics Office (NSO), which produces an annual report of the ELT sector in the country, 2010 student numbers picked up over the previous year. However, it should be noted that not all schools took part in the 2009 survey, and when compared with 2010 figures, student numbers actually decreased in 2010 by 6.1 per cent (see STM, December 2011, pages 24-28).

Indeed, according to Maryse Gatt, Director of inlingua School of Languages in Sliema, 2010 proved a challenging year. “Competition on our island is fierce,” she asserts, “and price-cutting has proved to have had an impact on our group market resulting in lower student intake.” She adds, “Being a medium-sized school we focus on quality as opposed to quantity and we have resolved not to compromise quality for price.” In fact, at a recent presentation of the industry’s first benchmarking survey, national language school association, Feltom, and the Malta Tourism Authority both warned stakeholders against using such aggressive price-cutting tactics. “It is easy to lower prices, but it is not easy to bring them back up,” warned MTA Chief Executive, Josef Formosa Gauci.

Fast forward 12 months and several providers canvassed for this article report that 2011 was either “on a par” with business in 2010 or “considerably lower”. Gatt laments how the effects of 2010 rippled into 2011. “2011 has proved to be sluggish and dependent on last minute bookings leaving no room for planning,” she says.

Providers highlight a number of factors that may have contributed to this slump in bookings. The €500 (US$691) reduction in the amount Spanish students received as part of the Becas MEC scholarship scheme (see STM, June 2011, page 6) certainly impacted on Spanish enrolments affirms Alex Fenech, Sales & Marketing Director at Clubclass Residential Language School in St. Julian’s.

Political unrest in the Middle East during the busy summer season may have deterred students from travelling to study in the country in 2011. “The effects of the Libyan crisis, and our [close] proximity to Libya, proved to have a worrying effect on potential students,” outlines Gatt. Unsurprisingly, the crisis also affected Libyan student intake. Alex Camilleri, Marketing & Leisure Manager at Chamber College in Gzira, relates that there was a sharp decrease of Libyan students in the first, second and third quarter in 2011. Meanwhile, the weak pound sterling overshadowed the Maltese English language teaching market. Tour operators, put off by the strength of the euro, pushed the UK as a study travel destination, bemoans Julian Cassar Torregiani at am Language Studio in Sliema.

The robust junior market also looks to have suffered in 2011. “We have experienced a considerable decline in the number of junior students,” remarks Fenech. In particular, he says, “Groups in the shoulder months and groups and individuals in the summer.” At EC Malta in St. Julian’s, Centre Director Begoña Gonzalez reports a three per cent decrease in junior student weeks. Conversely, adult student weeks increased by five per cent at the school. Cassar Torregiani also picked up on this reversal of favour. A decrease in teenage group business in 2011 was compensated by an increase in direct adult bookings, he says.

While some more traditional source markets may have dried up slightly, new markets manifested themselves in 2011. “Malta has become more popular for students from South America,” observes Louiseanne Mercieca from English Language Academy in Sliema. For Iels, part of the LAL group, enquiries from Colombia, Iran and Saudi Arabia grew, while Gatt reports a marked increase in enrolments from Russia. Turkey is performing well for Clubclass. “Now that visa issues have been resolved and we have direct flights from Istanbul, it is very clear that Turkish students prefer Malta to the UK,” says Fenech. “Probably the reasons for this are cultural, financial and proximity.”

Creative solutions

Keen to counter any business downturn, English language providers in Malta have been getting creative with their course offerings and 2012 will see the launch of various new, and exciting products. Maryse Gatt, Director at inlingua School of Languages in Sliema – which is a Cambridge exam open centre – relates that in 2012 they will offer an eight-week exam preparation course that includes 30 lessons of targeted exam preparation, eight weeks accommodation in a share apartment, two-way airport transfers and exam preparation material. She also points out that the school is “well-prepared” for a challenging 2012. “We have maintained our current prices for 2012 bar a few minor increases in living costs.”

“We constantly try to come up with innovative programmes which students could be interested in and agents would be ready to sell,” states Alex Fenech, Sales & Marketing Director at Clubclass Residential Language School in St Julian’s. As well as a new English and photography course, the school has also launched a new business centre to accommodate its executive clients. “All the classrooms in the business centre are bright, comfortable and equipped with interactive whiteboards and televisions.” The school has also teamed up with an e-learning solutions company to provide a customised online learning system to help prepare students for their course prior to arrival. “They get extra practise throughout their course period and maintain acquired skills after their departure,” adds Fenech.

Alex Fenech, President of Maltese language school association Feltom, reflects on industry trends over the last few years.

“2010 was a year of partial recovery for the Maltese ELT industry. After two very successful years in 2007 and 2008, Maltese schools experienced a sharp decline in terms of student bookings in 2009. The main reasons for this were the international economic situation and the strength of the Euro against the pound sterling and US dollar. Although the industry showed some signs of recovery, numbers were still considerably lower when compared with 2007 and 2008 figures. Maltese language schools responded very strongly to the 2009 downturn by increasing their marketing spend considerably. The APS Bank, Feltom ELT Industry Survey Report by Deloitte, which Feltom recently launched, shows that schools increased their marketing spend by 31 per cent in 2010 when compared with 2009. In 2011, a number of Maltese schools, for various reasons, experienced a considerable reduction in the number of student bookings. A reduction in the value of the scholarship given to BECA students travelling to Malta severely impacted student numbers from Spain. While results for Q3 2011 are not yet available, the feedback Feltom is receiving from its member schools, particularly the larger ones, suggests that 2011 will take the Maltese ELT industry back to 2009 figures. In this economic environment it is almost impossible to make predictions for 2012, however indications being received from study abroad advisors, mainly in emerging source markets such as Brazil, Colombia and Turkey and non-EU countries such as Russia, suggest that possible shortages of accommodation in London, UK, and longer visa processing times because of the Olympics Games might benefit the Maltese ELT industry. Obviously, all this is dependent on a number of other outside factors which could negatively impact our industry, including austerity measures being adopted in the majority of our source markets.”

Statistics are based on figures supplied by a selection of individual schools and students. Not all survey respondents answered every question in the survey. Figures are, in some cases, rounded up or down to the nearest whole. All information is treated with the strictest confidence.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

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






Feltom Malta  
Groupement FLE  
International House World Organisation  
MEI Ireland  
Perth Education City  
Study Gold Coast  

Perth Education City  
Study Gold Coast  

Braemar College  
Greater Victoria School District  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  

Alexanders International School  
Cambridge Education Group - HO  
Camp Beaumont  
EAC Language Centres and Activity Camps  
INTO University Partnerships  
Kaplan International Colleges  
LAL London  
London School of Business & Finance  
London School of English  
Malvern House College London  
Mont Rose College of Management & Sciences  
Queen Ethelburga's College  
St Giles International  
Study Group  
Sussex Coast College Hastings  
University of Essex - International Academy  

Cambridge Esol  

Alphe Conferences  
SR Events  
International Educational Forum  

Accent Francais  
Alliance Française Lyon  
CIECE - Groupe ESCE, School of International Busin  
Ecole Suisse Internationale  
French in Normandy  
Groupement FLE  
International House Nice  
ILCF Institut Catholique de Paris  
Langue Onze Toulouse  
LSF Montpellier  
Lyon Bleu International  
Paris Langues / Club CEI des 4 Vents  
Universite d'été de Boulogne-sur- Mer  
Université de Perpignan  
Dr. Walter GmbH  

MEI Ireland  
Clare Language Centre  

Capital Education  

Otago Polytechnic  

STM Star Awards  

Colegio de Espana  
Inturjoven Spanish Courses  

EF International Language Centers  
Eurocentres International  

Malta Tourism Authority  

Open Hearts International College  
California State University San Marcos  
Columbia University  
ELS Language Centers  
Global Language Institute  
New York Language Center  
Ross School (The)  
Saint John's University  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  
UC Berkeley Extension  
University of California San Diego  
Zoni Language Centers  

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