January 2013 issue

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

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Malta stands its ground

2012 was a good year for many language schools in Malta, with reports of increasing student numbers from new student markets. Intensified marketing efforts combined with a wider variety of course offerings are among the reasons for the increase. Bethan Norris reports.  

Malta’s marketing budget by region (overall %) Student feedback respondents by world region of origin
C&E Europe 45%
W Europe 31%
Asia 15%
Latin America 6%
Middle East 3%
W Europe 43.3%
CE Europe 32.8%
Asia 9%
Africa 5.9%
Latin America 3%
North America 1.5%
No reply 4.5%

Top nationalites in Malta by student weeks – according to schools, 2011 To practise in Malta with native speakers is ....
Russian 16%
Spanish 12.1%
Italian 10.1%
Turkish 9.6%
German 8.5%
Korean 4.7%
Japaneese 3.8%
Swiss 3.4%
Austrian 2.8%
Brazilian 2.7%

Source: STM Malta school survey

Very easy 53%
Quite hard 28%
Quite easy 18%
Very hard 1%

Commission Student numbers by age range
21.9% is the average commission paid on a language course

Six of the institutions profiled paid an average 11.3 commission on accommodation

8-11: 2%
12-15: 7%
16-18: 14%
19-24: 30%
25-30: 23%
30-50: 20%
50+: 4%

Means of recruiting students in Malta, 2011 (schools) How did you find your programme? (students)
Agents 70%
Internet 18%
Local bookings 4%
Other means 8%
I found it on the internet 38%
It was recommended by a friend/relative 34%

It was recommended by an agent 22%
I saw it advertised 3%
No reply 3%

In my class there are...
...just the right amount of students and mix of nationalities 71%
...too many students who speak my language 10%
...too many students from one other country 10%
...too many students 6%
No reply 3%

Total marketing spend by sector and by category in %
Agency costs 35%
Commission 19%
Incentives 2%
Agency brochures 14%

Travel costs 40%
Agent workshops 19%
Student exhibitions 2%
Agency visits to school 1%
Entertainment 0.5%

Trips to agencies 17.5%
Publicity costs 25%
Agent mags etc. 0.5%
Student mags etc. 0%
Brochure, video etc 10%
Internet 14.5%

Student reasons for school selection included:
“Because the school replied to all my questions very quickly – they were easy to contact”
“I wanted to go to school in a country where the weather would be good and I could go swimming in the sea”
“I found a website that compares language schools, and my school had one of the best ratings”

Malta student feedback at a glance
Total number of students: 67 (female 38, male 25, unknown 4)
Average age in years: 29.6
Average number of students in class: 6.8
Participating schools: am Language Studio, Sliema; Chamber College, Gzira; EC Malta, St Julian’s; European School of English, Paceville; Global Village Malta, St Paul’s Bay; Institute of English Language Studies (IELS), Sliema; IH Malta, St Julian’s; inlingua Malta, Sliema; Linguatime, Sliema; Skylark School, Sliema

Student numbers increased considerably in 2012 compared with 2011,” says Alex Fenech, Sales and Marketing Director at Clubclass Language School in St Julian’s. “2011 was a considerably bad year for Clubclass but in 2012 we managed to recover our deficit completely and our numbers are back to 2010 levels.”

Fenech is not alone when he reports that the downturn experienced by many in Malta in 2011 did not continue into 2012. Marisa Grixti from am Language Studio in Sliema says that numbers increased by 20 per cent in 2012, while Louiseanne Mercieca from ELA Malta, also in Sliema, says, “Our student numbers have increased over the past year.”

Data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) show that the total number of English language students in Malta dropped by 4.7 per cent between 2010 and 2011 to 69,297 students, with declines in student numbers from Spain, Italy and Germany. However, anecdotal evidence so far suggests more encouraging reports for 2012, as market conditions appear to have been more favourable.

Fenech and Grixti put their upsurge in student numbers in 2012 down to increased marketing efforts on the part of the schools. “Two new members of staff were employed to form part of the sales and marketing team and we have also invested much more money in attending workshops, office visits, etc,” says Fenech, while the targeting of new student markets has also proved fruitful. “Our most important source markets are Russia, Turkey, Spain, Colombia and Austria. This is a direct result of where we have been mainly investing our marketing spend,” adds Fenech.

However, numbers also appear to be up from more traditional markets too, such as those close to home in Europe. “We think that more students came to Malta because it was difficult and expensive to find accommodation in the UK because of the Olympics,” says Mercieca, who adds that their most populous nationalities are Russian, Italian and German. “We have been attending workshops in Russia for many years and ELA has an excellent reputation there. EU funding means that more Italians are travelling to study English and Malta’s proximity, weather and excellent schools, as well as the safety of the destination makes it very attractive. With regards to the German market, we welcomed more juniors from Germany this year.”

Liz Camilleri from AClass Academy of English in Pembroke agrees that Italian student numbers performed well in 2012. “Italy has been and continues to be our biggest market,” she confirms. “This is due to our proximity with Italy as well as a number of groups coming over on scholarships to learn English.” However, Camilleri notes that some student markets saw numbers decline last year. “Hungary [has declined in students numbers in the last 12 months]. We had several groups last year, however, this year they chose a different destination.”

One student market that has been declining significantly over the last few years is Spain, with the NSO revealing that the number of student weeks from this source decreased by 41.5 per cent between 2010 and 2011. Fenech notes that this decline continued into 2012. “The number of Spanish students declined considerably due to the reduction of the Becas MEC scholarship,” he says.

However, English language schools in Malta note that they have made considerable efforts to ensure that student numbers continue to remain stable in years to come with increased marketing efforts and new course content high on the business agenda. Mercieca says, “In recent years we have diversified our product from one that is mainly geared at offering General English courses to European adults. We have ventured – successfully – into the examinations niche and currently offer the full range of Cambridge Esol exams, Ielts and Toefl iBT – for whom we are the examining centre on the island. We have also introduced junior and teen summer courses, thus widening our appeal and incrementing numbers as a result.”

While Malta has traditionally been known for its appeal to Europeans wanting language and activity courses at reasonable prices in a holiday destination, there is evidence that this niche is changing with many language schools in Malta branching out to offer exam preparation as well as business courses. Such changes are likely to encourage different types of students to study in the country in the future. Fenech says, “We have introduced new programmes such as English for job seekers, English and photography and a new junior programme which have proved to be quite successful.”

However, Malta’s location in the Mediterranean makes it an ideal location for those looking to have a summer holiday while also learning English and the destination is likely to remain popular as economic conditions improve in student source countries.

Historically, the agent/school partnership has proved the most effective means of international student recruitment (see box on page 56). Seventy per cent of all students stemmed from this source in 2011, compared with 72 per cent in 2010. Interestingly, 22 per cent of student respondents said they had found out about their programme via an agent representative. Of that 22 per cent, almost half went on to book a language course directly via the agency.

Comparison with last year  

Despite being allocated just 35 per cent of schools’ average marketing budget annually, agents brought in 70 per cent of students to language schools in Malta, according to the results of our survey of operating conditions in 2011. This makes agents a very cost effective way for language schools in Malta to bring in more students.

The nationality breakdown of students in Malta for 2011 remained similar to our previous survey of 2010, although Spanish student numbers declined slightly – making up 12.1 per cent of the student body in this survey compared with 16 per cent previously. Instead, Russian students took the top spot, with 16 per cent of the total. Turkish students increased in 2011, rising from four per cent of the student body in 2010 to 9.6 per cent.

Average course and accommodation costs had increased slightly, according to our survey – from a545 (US$425) in 2010 to a623 (US$486) in 2011. This is in line with anecdotal evidence that schools in Malta are putting their prices up in order to offset any decline in student numbers experienced by the economic downturn. Residential accommodation per week increased from a161 (US$126) to a174 (US$136) and homestay accommodation from a177 (US$138) to a203 (US$158). Despite this increase, however, the average length of stay increased slightly from 2.8 weeks to 3.6 weeks.

Genevieve Abela, Chief Executive Officer at Feltom, talks about the association’s activities over the past year

“2012 has been a challenging year for Feltom; it has been a year marked by growth and change. Starting off with the AGM in January, members decided that it was time to take the federation to a new level with a full-time representative at the helm. May 2012 ushered myself into the role of CEO, bringing with it the challenge of trying to juggle the task of maintaining a sense of continuity while introducing a more innovative approach.

Feltom maintained relations with various stakeholders in guaranteeing a quality EFL destination with its collaboration on several government policies including the National Tourism Policy. By ensuring that EFL is given a focus, Feltom has guaranteed that government has a strategy for the further growth of the industry and a commitment to Malta as a quality destination. Further work on the EFL Monitoring Board, together with the Malta Tourism Authority, the police, and Central Visa Unit among others, meant that Feltom has intensified its voice in the national decision making arena.

As with most school associations, visas and the growth of new markets remains Malta’s biggest challenge. Collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Central Visa Unit resulted in better relations with countries that have representation where Malta does not, allowing students access to visas in a more efficient manner. This is a challenge that will remain one of Feltom’s top priorities in the coming months.

A feather in Feltom’s cap for 2012 is the 2011 National Statistics confirming that 78 per cent of all language students coming to Malta chose a Feltom school as their preferred choice, further proof that both agents and students believe in the quality service offered by Feltom. Combined with a nine per cent increase in student arrivals to date and the 20 per cent increase in student weeks to date, this has been an overall good year for the EFL industry in Malta.
The federation is currently in full swing with preparations for the 2013 Feltom ELT Malta Workshop, taking place in March. Held in one of our top-quality five-star hotels, as in previous years this workshop provides agents and exhibitors with an unrivalled opportunity to meet representatives from many of Malta’s ELT schools, discover Malta, visit a number of Malta’s language schools, and relax and network informally with representatives from schools during the various social events.”

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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.






Homestay Technologies Ltd  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  
CAPS-I (The Canadian Association of Public Schools  
English Australia  
Feltom Malta  
Study Gold Coast  
Ability English  
Academia International College  
Access Macquarie Limited  
Australian Institute of Professional Education  
Cairns Language Centre / Eurocentres Cairns  
English Australia  
ILSC Australia  
Impact English College  
UNSW Global Pay Limited (University of New South W  
Study Gold Coast  
Braemar College  
CAPS-I (The Canadian Association of Public Schools  
Centennial College of Applied Arts and Technology  
COMOX valley - School District 71  
Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est  
Eastern Townships School Board  
Fanshawe College of Applied Arts and Technology  
IH Pacific (Vancouver, Whistler, San Diego)  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
Niagara College  
Ottawa International Student Programmes (OISP)  
Pembina Trails School Division  
Powell River School District #47  
Qualicum School District #69  
Sol Schools International  
Study Manitoba School Divisions  
Victoria International Student Program  
Waterloo Catholic District SB  
West Vancouver School District #45  
iMandarin Language Training Institute  
Activate Your English  
INTO University Partnerships  
International House World Organisation  
Kaplan International Colleges  
London School of Business & Finance  
Mayfair School of English  
Ovingdean Hall College  
TUS Advertising  
St Giles International  
Twin Group  
University of East Anglia  
Feltom Malta  
Cambridge Esol  
TOEFL Educational Testing Service  
Homestay Technologies Ltd  
Feltom Malta  
IH Malta-Gozo  
inlingua Malta  
Maltalingua Ltd.  
CIAL - Centro de Linguas  
Oscars International  
International House Sevilla CLIC  
STS Student Travel Schools  
EF International Language Centers  
Annie Wright School  
Brown University  
ELS Language Centers  
FLS International  
Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart  
Glenholme School  
Global Language Institute  
Northwest School  
Ross School (The)  
Saint George's School  
Saint John's University  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  
Zoni Language Centers  

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