||HSI/Into organise exclusive agent event in Korea
High Schools International (HSI) and Into University Partnerships (IUP) held an agent workshop in Seoul, Korea, in April that enabled up to 60 agents from 40 agencies to get to know the two education brands, as well as affilliated companies Ises in the USA, Rennert and ELC.
Declan Millar, Managing Director of HSI, explained to LTM that he also owns Ises in the USA, while Rennert and ELC are programmes that are also sold through the regional Korean office that HSI and IUP share. “It’s the second year that we have run [the event],” he said, indicating that it would become an annual event after the feedback received. The format of the one-day event is a day of rotating presentations, lunch and dinner in the evening. “Feedback has been extremely positive,” said Millar, “although of course business from Korea is down this year for us as it is for all programmes.”
According to the Bank of Korea, spending on study abroad in Korea has plunged by 35 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 the steepest decline since the Asian economic crisis 11 years ago. It estimates that US$770 million was spent in the first three months of the year by Koreans studying and training abroad, down on the comparable US$1.2 billion spent in the same period last year. It attributes this to the financial precaution being exercised by all Koreans and the weakened won currency.
Millar said that his strategy for his three HSI operations and Ises during the economic downturn was to “continue, if not increase, our marketing efforts and spend as the recession will end sooner rather than later we believe”. He continued, “This is an ideal time to provide agency support, to examine our cost base, to look at our sales and marketing strategies and to develop our programmes into more market-led offerings.”
His expectations for the year ahead see the UK performing well, with demand for US public high schools as strong as ever. Enrolments into US private schools are on the rise too; Millar says his company has seen significant growth in this sector in the past three years “and this has continued this year”.
Agency associations organise student fairs
Two agency associations have organised education fairs for students in their own country, hoping to boost interest in outbound study and build business for agency members.
For the Alice agency association in Mauritius, it was the first student fair that the organisation had arranged, attracting around 2,000 students and attended by Alice member agencies. Premila Beeputh at Alice explained that because of the success of the event, next year, educators will also be invited to attend.
Meanwhile, in Spain, Aseproce organised the sixth “Salon de los Idiomas” in Barcelona and Madrid. High numbers of students turned out; 1,900 in Barcelona and 2,500 in Madrid. Ana María Iglesias Medela at Aseproce said, “Our target was to attract visitors that may turn into customers for member agencies. This goal was achieved again, with a high percentage of visitors with serious intentions of finding and contracting language programmes.” She added that visitors ranged from families with children, high school and university students to teachers and various professionals.
The fair attracted 40 exhibitors and included an information point to find out about free language scholarships available from the Spanish Ministry of Education, as well as free English language level tests. In Madrid, the venue was impressive: the Presidential Box of the Real Madrid Stadium. Iglesias Medela said there was “a spectacular view of the football pitch”.
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, BWS Germanlingua nominates Language School Worldwide in Spain. Melanie Mohi, Marketing Director & School Director Munich, explains this decision.
“It is my pleasure to nominate Language School Worldwide, run by Mayumi Morimoto and David Gundlach. They are based in Barcelona, with a subsidiary in Japan, but operate worldwide, which is very useful for our nationality mix.
We have worked together for four years now and it has constantly been a well-working and pleasant business relationship, based on mutual trust, loyalty, understanding and respect. We would like to point out the commitment of the agency owners and their dedicated team to high standards of service, professionalism and a dynamic approach. Student counsellors are very well briefed about our schools. This means that students sent by LSWW come well informed, which is essential for their happiness during their stay.
The team provides true feedback, takes their time to follow up and understands our procedures and capabilites, also when it comes to problem solving. We appreciate that the agency is well organised, makes payments on time and has time for mutual visits.”
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. How is the global credit crunch making an impact on your clients’ decisions?
Karina Mills, Australian Studies Advice ASA Gold Coast, Australia
“Right at the beginning of the “crash” (about October November 2008) we felt the dip in offshore sales. Students and parents got a bit apprehensive about spending money. They were making enquiries about courses, but postponing their decision for 2009. We also noticed a slowdown in onshore sales, not as much as the offshore ones, but we could see students being more cautious in choosing their courses. Some of them were cancelling courses to go back home and others deciding to go for shorter courses to see what happened. Now in 2009 we are experiencing a huge increase in the sales again. Maybe because the jobs here in Australia which are most popular waitressing, cleaners, bartending, etc are still available, and the students are feeling confident in continuing their journey here in Australia. But also because everyone has to continue to live, buy their groceries, pay the rent, pay for their qualifications etc. What I think is that the student who has decided to study, and already prepared financially to study, will continue with their plans, even if the world is experiencing a big crash. I am confident that 2009 is going to be a great year for us here in Australia.”
Mansuk Bae, Korea America Marketing Center (KAMC), Korea
“Every country throughout the world has been influenced by the global recession and Korea is no exception. Many Korean businesses have shut down or reduced their levels of operation. Unemployment is high and new hires are almost non-existent. The banking sector has financial problems which have led to the depreciation of the won against other major currencies. All these different economic factors have greatly impacted on consumer confidence. Also, doubts have arisen within the families wanting to send their child abroad for a foreign education. But even though Korean parents are feeling the pinch, education aspirations for their children have not diminished. To educate their children is their primary goal. Once the currency rate starts to stabilise and Koreans become accustomed to the new currency exchange rates, Korean students will once again venture out to foreign countries to increase their language skills and earn their degrees. It is inevitable that students will enrol in foreign schools again because Korean society still values foreign degrees. In addition to the foreign diploma, English skills enhance the employment opportunities of new applicants. There might be a decrease in the number of students going abroad, but once the economy shows the slightest signs of stability the Korean students will once again seek their educational goals abroad.”
Ben Chang, Director, UR Edu & Info Co Ltd. Taiwan
“The Wall Street financial crisis loomed up and Taiwan was hit all of a sudden. In November 2008, our clients who used to be choosing ELS [in the USA] and other expensive language programmes cancelled or postponed their bookings. Take ELS for example. Our students going to the school dropped by 50 per cent. Since January 2009, we started to receive some students who were interested in cheap language programmes, mostly for the US. Working/internship programmes are on the rise and we have received several enquiries. Because this product is still a developing market, we do not have too much experience and it is hard to close a deal.”
On the move
Steve Quirk is the new Manager of International Engagement at Acpet in Australia. Drawing upon an extensive background in private education, industry, student services and government, Mr Quirk manages Acpet’s international engagement programmes. Through policy advice, advocacy, member and student services and marketing, he is commited to improving outcomes for students and providers alike, and enhancing Australia’s reputation as a global leader in international education.
Virginia Wilson is the new Dean of International Students at Rongotai College in Wellington, New Zealand. She has been teaching in New Zealand for 30 years and at Rongotai College since 1993. She looks forward to a long-lasting relationship with agent partners and welcomes communication at any time to discuss any matter.
Samantha Torruella Ortega is the new Director of Marketing at Proyecto Español, which has four centres in Spain and is based in Alicante. Ms Ortega studied international commerce focused on marketing at university in Barcelona and lived in Budapest and Paris before starting work. She said, “I love working in an international environment so I can practise my English, Italian and French and see how people from all around the world are interested in Spanish language and culture.”
Erin McAndrew, formerly of Study Group, has moved on after 11 years and relocated within the USA to Chicago from New York. She is now the Vice President of International Recruitment for the Meritas Family of Schools, which offers superb private boarding facilities in the USA and Geneva, Switzerland at their flagship school, College du Leman. The US campuses have only recently begun to internationalise.
Maura Leao is the new President of Belta, the national agency association in Brazil. Ms Leao, a Director at Yazigi Travel, takes over the presidency from Tatiana Mendes. “We have for the next three years a challenging mission at Belta for the new Board of Directors,” she said. “The Board wishes to bring the association even closer to its members and we also want to ensure that members offer assurance and reliability to the public and our partners abroad.”
Pre-arrival online learning rolled out for schools
An online publisher and e-learning organisation, Intuto, has rolled out a pre-arrival learning (Pal) package for English language schools interested in creating an online relationship with potential clients before they arrive in the country (and once they they have completed their studies and depart for home). As Thomas Christensen, CEO of Intuto explained, the Pal package also enables schools to offer an online orientation should they wish and language level assessment.
So far, Intuto has 11 clients signed up to using Pal, which is referred to as a “white label” product by Christensen, because the online product can be branded to seamlessly fit into a school’s website and design.
“I am not conscious of any other ESL-specific e-learning organisation that offers this,” he said. Post-departure learning online is possible too: Christensen observed that this also helps build a more lengthy client relationship and “extends the earning potential to after the student leaves something which is becoming more and more attractive in the current financial climate,” he said.
A partner school of Intuto receives the email address and language level of a given student and can start building a relationship with the student much earlier than at present. “The product is aimed at any language school or English department catering to international students,” said Christensen.
Prices start at CAN$500 (US$432) for a one-off set-up fee and CAN$50 (US$43.2) per month, with a charge of CAN$15 (US$13) per student for the online course in batches of 100. Christensen is confident that online learning will grow in the future. “Virtual classrooms using online whiteboards and Skype (or similar) are growing in popularity among students but have not yet been embraced by schools,” he said.
One million hits for Cambridge Esol
Cambridge Esol’s candidate support website for learners of English has now received one million online visitors since 2007 when it was launched. The site features information on the suite of exams available for general, professional and young learners of English. Visitors are able to access exam results on the day of release.
The latest addition to the Cambridge Esol website is called ‘My ePortfolio’ and enables students to record their language skills, experience and qualifications using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Sharon Harvey, Assistant Director, Support Products and Services at Cambridge Esol, said she was pleased with the popularity of the website. She commented, “We will continue to develop the site further in line with changing candidate needs.”
Low price guarantee from HostelBookers
HostelBookers, one of the UK’s leading budget accommodation websites, wants to offer the cheapest accommodation worldwide and has announced that it will refund the price difference if the same accommodation is found for less within 24 hours.
Chief Operating Officer at HostelBookers, David Smith, said, “We are so confident in being able to offer the cheapest accommodation on the web that we’re prepared to put our money where our mouth is and offer this lowest price guarantee”.
Hostelbookers has introduced this money back guarantee after a survey of 600 hostels in 20 destinations by online travel news provider, EyeforTravel. The survey revealed that Hostelbookers’ prices were on average 4.2 per cent cheaper than leading competitor, Hostelworld.
Smith said, “With 2,500 destinations worldwide, our aim is to be the number-one budget accommodation booking site, with no fees or hidden costs for our customers.” HostelBookers’ budget accommodation includes youth hostels, hotels, B&B options and private apartments.
Applications for iPhone launched by Kaplan
Kaplan Publishing, a division of Kaplan that publishes academic and professional development resources, has launched two Toefl applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
“With the release of our Toefl applications, Kaplan is providing mobile learning for our international, college-bound students precisely where they want it everywhere they find themselves with some time for study”, said Jennifer Farthing, Executive Director, Business Development at Kaplan Publishing.
The mobile phone applications contain Vocabulary Flashcards with more than 350 words that students need to know for Toefl test success. There are also more than 350 commonly used phrases with idioms in the Toefl Idioms Flashcards application. Both applications, which include audio pronunciations, definitions and sample sentences to hone listening and speaking skills, are available for US$4.99.
In February, the company also launched a Graduate Records Exams (GRE) Flashcard application.
Work & travel
Volunteering more popular in the UK
Volunteering abroad is an increasingly popular option for Britons in the current recession, according to UK company, Projects Abroad. In January, the work and travel organisation cited a 50 per cent increase in applications from skilled professionals, compared with the previous year.
Britons “are finding themselves out of work and want to apply themselves to more than straight aid”, said Peter Slowe of Projects Abroad, noting particular interest in environmental conservation.
Feltom has big plans up its sleeves for its 20th anniversary year. Isabelle Pace Warrington, Executive Officer, answers our questions.
Full name: Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta
Year established: 1989
Number of members: 15
Type of members: Full and affiliate members
Association’s main role: Feltom is a self-regulating national body which functions to establish and maintain codes of conduct and national standards of service for its members, to maintain a professional identity for its members and to promote Malta as an English language teaching destination
Government recognition: yes
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: yes
Ms Isabelle Pace Warrington,
Executive Officerc/o The Victoria Hotel,
Gorg Borg Olivier Street,
Sliema, SLM 1807 Malta Email: email@example.com
Tel:  2744 5422
How are members faring in terms of enrolments compared with previous bumper years?
A recent industry survey for the first quarter of 2009 indicates that 56.6 per cent of respondents experienced fewer enrolments than for the same period last year. Almost 22 per cent indicated similar numbers while the same proportion 21.7 per cent experienced improved figures for this quarter. These figures were quite indicative as the survey had a 70 per cent response rate with the majority of major players participating.
Is Feltom trying to attract new members?
When the current President of Feltom, Andrew Mangion, assumed the role in February 2008, one of his key objectives was to increase Feltom membership. So far this year we have received two new applications and we are aware that a further two schools are compiling their application.
What is on the agenda for your landmark 20th anniversary?
A number of activities are planned. A number of specialised academic courses are being held. These include courses for teachers of young learners, a train-the-trainer course, led by Tim Bowen, and a seminar for EFL teachers led by Scott Thornbury to be held in September. At the height of the season, on 25 July, a huge party is being organised for all English language students. And the highlight of the anniversary events will be the Feltom EFL Forum and Malta Workshop, which is being held in collaboration with Alphe and Language Travel Magazine. The three-day event will offer agents a unique chance to experience what Malta has to offer and the opportunity of meeting up to 25 of Malta’s language schools under one roof. On the final day, an industry forum will feature a number of key industry speakers, discussing the current state and the future prospects of the EFL industry. Celebrations will be brought to a close with a gala event for Feltom member schools in December.
Can Malta continue to build numbers, or is it close to reaching its capacity?
Yes Malta can continue to build numbers. When the EFL industry in Malta was still in its infancy, it was essentially a summer operation. Today this has grown to become a year round industry with the majority of schools courses throughout the year. The industry can continue to grow, particularly during the winter and shoulder months. As Malta becomes known in Asia and South America, the potential for growth becomes more tangible. As for growth during the summer, as numbers have steadily climbed, so schools have become more adept at planning and organising classroom space and accommodation. And Feltom has been working with the Parliamentary Secretariat for Tourism, within the Office of the Prime Minister, to encourage more families to host students and to think ahead to provide alternative sources of accommodation.
• Canada and the European Union (EU) have reached a mutual decision regarding an open skies deal. The accord will permit airlines from the two regions to fly unrestricted to any port in the EU or Canada and address restrictions over foreign ownership rulings. “This will generate major benefits for consumers and airlines and will make the EU-Canada aviation market one of the most open in the world,” said European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso. A study conducted by the European Commission suggested that the agreement would generate an additional 500,000 passengers in its first year and create an extra 1,000 jobs.
• Ruba, a new online travel website, claims it will revolutionise the way in which individuals plan a trip abroad. The user-generated travel guide embraces the trend of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter by encouraging users to share travel anecdotes and pictures. Unlike other travel review websites, Ruba aims to offer a highly visual guide containing a collection of reviews written by fellow users about their favourite places. “I believe that it’s dramatically easier to gauge the travel personality of a reviewer when I can see a crisp collection of their favourite places,” said founder and Chief Executive, Mike Cassidy. “Once I’ve found an author I like, I’m really curious to see all the places around the world that [they] really like.”
• Dubai International Airport, the world’s sixth busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic, reported a positive growth in last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009. Passenger intake increased by 7.1 per cent and two per cent respectively. “The results for April are ahead of our expectations and this bodes well for the rest of the year. Considering that the travel season is yet to peak, we are very positive that the second quarter will show better results,” said Dubai Airport Chief Executive, Paul Griffiths.
• Jet Airways, India’s premier international airline, announced a codeshare agreement with UK carrier Virgin Atlantic. The new agreement, effective as of May, means passengers can book with Virgin Atlantic to travel with Jet Airways on their twice-daily service between Mumbai and London Heathrow. Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, Chief Executive Officer from Jet Airways, said that the codeshare “represents a significant step forward in strengthening the relationship between our two airlines”. In other news, Virgin Atlantic has added a new route to its expansive network. A weekly service from the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan to London Gatwick will commence this November and will operate via the island of Antigua.
• EL AL, Israel’s flag carrier, has started offering flights from London Luton to Tel Aviv in Israel with ongoing connections to Mumbai, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Beijing and Bangkok. Operating six times a week, the new service has already received strong demand. London Luton Airport Managing Director, Glyn Jones, commented, “The launch of this El Al service to Tel Aviv is very exciting as it provides a choice of onward connecting flights to India, South Africa and the Far East”, adding, “The flight timings are very convenient arriving in Tel Aviv early evening to connect with long-haul services”.
• A billion dollar project to expand Doha International Airport in Qatar is well underway. The improvement works, which are taking place while the New Doha International Airport is under construction, is said to include a brand new transit terminal featuring an additional eight gates - plus extra refreshment and shopping facilities. Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer, Akbar Al Baker, said the infrastructure expansion was necessary due to the rapid growth of national carrier, Qatar Airways. “Our expansion is growing at a remarkable pace,” he said, adding, “with new aircraft joining our fleet at an incredible rate of one a month for the foreseeable future, we need the airport infrastructure to be able to cope, hence the creation of a new transit terminal and more seating capacity at the Premium Terminal.
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