Over 60 agents and education institutions from all over Australia attended the third EA workshop, which was held in Sydney in April. As well as the opportunity to meet potential partners in a workshop environment, EA organised a number of information sessions for agents, with speakers from a range of industry organisations and government bodies. Agents were provided with information on topics such as the current Australian visa regulations and likely developments; accreditation; and government policies relating to international education and pathways to further academic study.
'The EA Workshop was very professional and effective,' testified Nora Falencik of Bridge Agency in Poland, who added, 'All agents were provided with briefcases with all the necessary materials. The delivery of materials was also arranged [at the end of the event] and the working conditions were excellent.'
As well as attending the workshop during the day, agents were offered socialising opportunities in the evening. 'The two days of appointments were busy for all participants but supported by a comprehensive social programme that allowed agents and institution representatives to unwind together,' related Blundell. She said the 'mystery' destination on the final evening was a huge success, 'with delegates being taken by private ferry across Sydney harbour, up in a cable car with amazing night views, escorted by torchlight through the grounds of Taronga Zoo and given the opportunity to get up close and personal with an echidna, a baby crocodile and a snake'.
Australian schools were similarly complimentary about the organisation of the event. 'There was an enormous amount of organisation behind the scenes which was a reason for the event being very good,' commented Dallas Dowsett of International House Queensland in Cairns. 'I have direct outcomes from this event in terms of new agents appointed for our school - the majority of these are in Eastern Europe which suits my school in its diversification strategy.'
Six different fam trips were also organised before and after the event to enable agents to visit different regions of Australia.
New Indonesian association
Twelve founding agencies have launched a new association for Indonesian agents. Launched in February, and legally established in March, Ikatan Konsultan Pendidikan Internasional Indonesia (IKPII) aims to raise awareness about ethical business practices in the country.
Sumarjono Suwito at IKPII said the association had plans to expand and create a platform for as many agencies as possible to present a professional front to the public. 'Our vision is the creation of a trustworthy, healthy and strong international education consultancy industry in Indonesia,' he said.
National export education promotion bodies, including Australia's AEI network, played a role in helping the agencies come together to form an association. Suwito added that Canada's CEC Network, the British Council and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise also played a role.
New members of the Indonesian association will be required to have operated for at least three years, have at least two staff in addition to the owner, have a fixed agency address with a proper office and be recommended for membership by two existing association members.
'IKPII is a democratic association and no [distinction] is made between pioneer members and other members,' said Suwito. He added that there was an abundance of small, medium and large operators in the marketplace. 'An association is needed to reach a united agreement on issues such as discounting, false documents and standard practices,' he said.
New rule in Canada to affect industry
The Canadian government has tightened up rules concerning the operation of immigration agents - reflecting the current scrutiny of immigration abuse that is occuring in many countries.
The new rules dictate that, since April, only registered immigration agents can lodge new visa applications on behalf of clients, if they charge a fee for their consultancy services. Agencies or persons that do not charge a fee must be Canada-based.
While the central counselling activities of education agencies should not be affected, if agencies have applied for visas on behalf of their students until now, they will have to reconsider this course of action if they are not recognised as authorised.
The Canadian Education Centre (CEC) Network is lobbying the immigration department to consider the impact of this rule on education agents, and discussions are ongoing, said Anne Stockdale at CEC. For more information, see www.cic.gc.ca.
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q What types of courses will see a rise in demand in the future in your opinion, and why?
'As I am already 60 and have been selling courses abroad since I was 22 years old, I believe that the courses that will have more demand in the near future will be courses for over-50s. I think so, because we feel still young and are willing to have new experiences. Taking a course, staying with a host family and touring at the same time is the best choice. Luckily many schools have started thinking about us. To mention a few in the UK: Anglo Continental School of English in Bournemouth, Geos, Yes Education Centre in Eastbourne and Churchill House School of English in Ramsgate.'
Graciela Moscato de Busso, Zenitur, Argentina
'We think that short-term general and special business courses will see a rise in demand in the near future thanks to companies that regularly allocate funds to train their personnel. Language training, at least in Russia, is a big part of such training. Most of the money is paid in Russia to various language schools and competition is quite high. The courses are not cheap at all. The trend is gaining momentum towards spending money on shorter language programmes abroad, for two-to-three weeks, sometimes combining them with vacation and fun. This option is definitely more appealing to staff and sometimes is also preferred by companies. Schools with good teaching processes and outstanding social activities are the number-one choice, within reasonable price limits. From the very beginning, we chose schools with appropriate programmes and so far the majority of our clients are happy with the choice we made.'
Leonid L Natapov, Hartford Partners, Russia
'There is an intrinsic link between China's education market and its economic growth. Academic courses need to reflect China's dynamic demands for vocational, tourism/hotel management, information technology and business-related courses. The demand for these courses is certain as China needs to sustain its rapid economic development. The country is also aggressively encouraging students to pursue higher education locally. Hence, the next strategic move will be to deliver professional programmes in-country. The attraction is two-fold: first, students could save on living costs. Second, they have the flexibility of completing their course locally and/or overseas.
Such a move would create market advantage in China's competitive education business.'
Andrew Chan, Han Gao International, Singapore
'Business programmes for students over 25 years old, in which they do not mix with younger and non-business students. Also, programmes for mature students, such as courses with a minimum student age of 50 years old and activities included. Any school can actually offer both programmes. Institutions located in cities with more of a business focus will find it easier to attract students for business programmes, whereas language schools situated in cultural and quaint areas could easily set up [targeted] programmes for mature clients. Schools do tend to regularly adapt or improve programmes, because their owners, directors and managers are often travelling and listening to the opinions of students and agents.'
Claudio Tyszler, Canada-Brasil Exchange Programs, Brazil
Agency of the month
In a new series to appear in Language Travel Magazine, we will be asking a different language teaching institution each month to nominate one of their preferred agencies or agent partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.
This month, Cial Centro de Linguas in Portugal nominates Alfa Sprachreisen in Germany.
Alexandra Borges de Sousa, Director of Studies/International Relations at the school, explains this decision: 'We are proud to say that Cial has long-standing relationships with agents worldwide, some of which have developed into good friendships, although there is one agency we can easily nominate - Alfa Sprachreisen. We have been working together with this agency for over 20 years, they were one of the first to include Portuguese in their catalogue, and have watched our school's growth over the years.
Alfa's staff are very clear and quick in conveying their client's needs to us and also, and very importantly, in answering our questions - either academic or about logistic issues. Because they know the country, the school and the people, Alfa is very successful in explaining to students exactly what they can expect to find when they come to study in Portugal. This is particularly important when many of the students are executives who don't want to waste time.'
On the move
David Anthonisz, former Europe Marketing Director of Shane Global Village, is now Global Marketing Director for Shane English Schools since the two companies, Shane and Global Village, decided to end their marketing alliance. He will be supported by Regional Marketing Managers, Reka Lenart (Europe), Ema Hara (Asia) and Judy Zhu (China), with an Americas Marketing Manager to be appointed.
Pamela Caicedo, formerly Marketing Manager of Málaga ¡Sí! in Malaga, Spain, is now working as part of the marketing team at fellow Malaga language school, Malaca Instituto. In her new role, Ms Caicedo will be working on specific markets as a Marketing Executive. Malaca Instituto is reinforcing its marketing and sales department and dividing clients into regions.
Zoni Language Centers in New York, USA, has appointed two members of staff responsible for liaising with agents. Irena Zhong, from China, has been working with international students at Zoni for six years. She is now overseeing the student recruitment process and is responsible for agency contacts in China, Taiwan, and Japan. Kathy Park (right), a native of Seoul, Korea, is now responsible for agency contact in Korea, Europe, Latin America and Central America.
Alexis Sheldon (left) has moved on from his position as Head of Cactus Language Training in the UK to concentrate on running his online marketing company. Nick Marks (centre) has joined as Product Executive. He will be working with clients, students and trainers in all the languages that Cactus offers to its corporate and private clients. Anna Kubny (right) has become a permanent member of the Cactus team after completing her Masters degree in Germany. Ms Kubny will be working as a Product Executive promoting and developing the English market.