||Multiple spring workshops
Three different agent workshops took place in April and May this year giving participants the opportunity to travel to Cairo, Galway and Melbourne to meet with industry contacts.
The Australia New Zealand Agent Workshop (ANZA) was held in Melbourne, Australia, for the first time this year and attracted agents from 48 countries. In total, 142 providers from Australia and New Zealand met with 147 agents at the two-day event. Bruce Osborne, Director of the Universal College of Learning in New Zealand, said that the event “exceeded my expectations”. He added, “I have attended events in the past and this was the best by far.”
In addition to pre-scheduled meetings, participants were also given the opportunity to attend an afternoon of 16 market specific seminars on topics such as New Zealand and Australian visas, the ICEF online workshop and working with Latin American agents. Kerrie Eagle, Registrar at Bedford College in Glebe, NSW, Australia, said that the seminars were “a valuable opportunity to keep in touch with current trends in the market and in immigration laws”. Attendees could also choose to take part in one of the 11 fam trips organised either before or after the event.
This year, Galway in Ireland was the setting for the International Association of Language Centres (Ialc) agent workshop, which was held at the beginning of May. In total, 102 out of 105 Ialc member schools attended the event to showcase their programmes to 107 agents. Five new Ialc members Lyon Bleu in France, Genki Japanese Language School in Japan, Languages International in New Zealand, Associazione Lingue e Culture Europee (ALCE) in Italy and Oxford House School of English in the UK attended the event for the first time.
The event was hosted by Celestine Rowland and David Niland from the Galway Cultural Institute, who laid on a range of evening events, including a gala dinner and a show of Irish dancing. Miguel Fenton, Marketing Manager of Ialc, said, “The four-day Ialc workshop received really positive feedback, especially because we all overcame the travel disruption [caused by an erupting volcano in Iceland]. The organisational challenge begins again as we turn our attention now to the 2011 workshop in Shanghai, China.”
Meanwhile in Cairo, Egypt, the International House agent workshop went off a week later without a hitch. A total of 46 agents agencies met with 38 IH schools at the event, which was held in the historic Palace Al Gezira part of the Marriott Cairo. As well as attending meetings, attendees were also treated to a number of tours including visiting the Giza pyramids, the Saladin citadel of Cairo, the Mohamed Ali Mosque and the Khan el Khalili market.
The gala dinner was held in a private country club near to the pyramids and the evening’s entertainment included a belly dancing display. Firt time attendee, Costantino Mifsud from IH Malta, said, “I felt the willingness from both agents and schools to work better together as partners. The fam trips were also a great opportunity to get to know the people better.”
Online training for agents
ICEF has launched an innovative worldwide training programme for agency-based student counsellors. The ICEF Agent Training Course (IATC) will be delivered online free of charge and in a self-paced modular format. Counsellors who complete the online course will be eligible to pursue testing and certification at ICEF workshops as well as other selected industry events around the world.
The IATC training course is offered in partnership with Australia-based Pier Online. “We believe the IATC will be an important calling card of professionalism and quality among international recruitment agents,” said ICEF CEO Markus Badde. “ICEF is a committed partner for the ongoing professionalism of the international education sector, and for the development of standards and best practices in student recruitment. The IATC is a powerful statement of this commitment and an important resource for agencies the world over,” he added.
The purpose of the course, which is split into three integrated units, is to provide student counsellors with essential skills and background knowledge for providing professional advice to international students.
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, Sorrento Lingue International Language Institute in Italy nominates GoLearnTo in the UK. Olga Stinga, at the school, explains this decision.
“Sorrento Lingue International Language Institute has had the pleasure of working with GoLearnTo in the UK for the last three years, so it is my privilege to be able to nominate Vanessa Lennsen and her agency GoLearnTo as Agency of the Month. We have had, from the very beginning, a well-working and pleasant business relationship based on mutual trust, understanding and respect. It is clear that Vanessa and her team are very committed to their work, and have a high standard of customer service. We appreciate their cooperation with us as they have always been very professional, communicate promptly and are thorough in the counselling they give to the students that they send. I am also always impressed with Vanessa’s ability to understand problematic situations and work out a suitable solution. Furthermore, what really makes GoLearnTo stand out is its wide range of special programmes that they are able to organise in collaboration with Sorrento Lingue International Language Institute.”
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. How have you been affected by the Geos school closures in Australia? Has it made you more wary of working wih big chain school operators?
Grant Hutton, GA International Study, Switzerland
“The Geos school closures have affected my trust in all language schools. For example, in Switzerland our clients often pay their school fees well in advance of when they intend to commence their studies and normally we would immediately pass on this money to the school. Now, I am more likely to hold onto the money until the client starts their studies. Furthermore, I am more circumspect about working with new schools that I don’t know about. I check more carefully with other agents that I know, to see if they know the school or have had experience of working with the school, and whether there were any problems that might point towards financial pressures. I think the onus is now on schools to provide confidence to prospective agents that they are financially sound.”
Cesar Hanke, Australia Brasil, Nova Zelandia Brasil & Canada Travel
“No it has not affected our perception of large school chains, we are just taking more caution with schools we work with, researching their background and considering more which associations they belong to (English Australia, Acpet, Quality English etc). We don’t have preferences regarding sending students to large chains or small schools. They can both offer different advantages to suit different student profiles. We used to send lots of students to Geos and we were seriously affected by its closure. We lost over US$20,000 in the event and certainly had our business image unfairly damaged by the actions of Geos directors in Japan when they pulled the plug. However, I can say that our students have actually benefited from the Geos school closure, as they were relocated to much better schools within Australia due to wonderful relocation work conducted by English Australia."
Julia Hong, Uhak.com, Korea
“Uhak.com is always concerned about the financial stability and credibility of the schools to which we send students, because it directly affects their expected education and goals. It makes no difference to us the size of the school or whether or not they are members of a chain. Schools that find themselves at the point of bankruptcy, M&A [part of a merger & acquisition], or size reduction, cause our students considerable inconvenience and disappointment; many of those involved ascribe these problems to the agents who recommended the schools and have been quite demanding for reassurance that such difficulties will not occur again. Uhak.com is committed to our students’ satisfaction and to achieving their educational objectives. To that end, we have our own internal tuition assurance system.”
Ophelia Ho, Nova Training & Education Institute, Hong Kong
“The impact of the closures is tremendous in the way that it will distort and twist the doctrine of belief that education is a noble practice. In contrast, people are more inclined to perceive that education is becoming more and more commercial on the side to seek profit and profit only. A large chain school normally will imply confidence to students and agents that the schools are more resourceful on a comparative basis, such as finance, manpower, etc. As an agent, it works easier for us to recommend on their merits. But the closure will completely destroy all the advantage it will have over the small independent school for the safety, best interest and well being in their academic school lives.”
On the move
Nisha Christine Dass has joined the marketing team at London Study Centre in the UK. Ms Dass has worked at the school for the last four years and is also a Business English teacher. She says, “I know that the school has many great things to offer such as a unique established community that nurtures abilities and helps individuals achieve success. I am a work driven professional looking forward to getting involved in LSC’s marketing projects.”
With over 10 years of marketing experience, Betty Lee (top) has joined the Cambridge Education Group in the UK as their new Head of Marketing. Ms Lee has most recently worked with HSBC and Barclays Wealth and has been credited with the marketing launch of HSBC World Selection, their global flag-ship investment product, as well as shaping the Barclays International Premier service proposition. Mike Lu (bottom) has also joined CEG as Admissions Manager. Mr Lu is a University of Kent graduate in Masters of Management Sciences. He has been working on a number of roles within the international education industry for over eight years with four years experience in admissions.
Katie Idle has teamed up with Anita Kuehnel, President and CEO of Revolve EPS Holdings Ltd, and the new owner of Recruit in Canada University Fairs, as Sales & Marketing Director of the new company. Ms Idle formerly worked with Pacific Language Institute in Vancouver as Head of International Recruitment, and brings her many years of experience in the industry into this exciting new business venture. Recruit in Canada will be holding University Fairs in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto in the Fall and Spring. Revolve EPS also publishes Canadian Student Magazine and Gostudy.ca.
Odette Tuitama-Roberts has recently taken up the position of Marketing Manager for Bond College and the Bond University English Language Institute in Gold Coast, QLD, Australia. Following 20 years of living and working overseas, Ms Tuitama-Roberts returned to Australia in 2006 and began working for Bond University teaching various Elicos subjects for the academic pathways Bond University provides for its international student population, before joining the international recruitment team. She has over 25 years experience working in the Australian, domestic and international education and Elicos industries.
New language exchange network launched
A new website that enables language learners to find local conversation partners online via a language exchange network has been initiated. LingoMatch offers users the chance to post free adverts on the site and find fellow language learners to help them practise their newly acquired language skills.
The website was launched back in March with local coverage in major cities within the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Malta, South Africa and Spain and more countries are expected to follow. Andrew Playford, LingoMatch’s Founder, said, “The best way to learn a language is through total immersion. LingoMatch is here to magnify that effect by keeping language learners talking, wherever they are, which is essential to developing a strong language proficiency.”
The company also hope that language schools around the world will encourage their students to use the website as a way of connecting them with the local community. Students will be able to make use of the product when they return home by finding a language partner who lives nearby. Playford said, “It’s quite surprising how often that native speaker you really need lives just around the corner.”
Film captures lives of international students
A film highlighting the experiences of four Chinese teenagers studying abroad in New Zealand has been made by a Chinese filmmaker. The film, Waves: The Diaries of Chinese International Students in New Zealand, follows the four students as they learn to cope with the culture shock of studying in a foreign country and how they deal with the language barrier and homesickness.
Li Tao, who made the two-hour film, and is a professor at Fudan University in China, said, “This documentary is not about whether it is better to live overseas. It aims to present the journey and issues faced by the young students truthfully.”
More and more Chinese teenagers termed xiao liu xue sheng are leaving home to study overseas in order to ensure that they get a place at a good university. By studying overseas, they bypass the notoriously competitive national college entrance examination to gain admission into top local universities and colleges.
Toefl establishes Korean friendly website
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) in the USA has set up a Toefl website in the Korean language. More than 125,000 Korean students took the Toefl test in 2009 and the new Korean-based website can be found at www.toeflgoanywhere.org/kr.
Lee Hey-kyung from the ETS public relations agency said, “ETS will provide useful information on Toefl for Korean students through the website. For example, students are able to view video clips on how native English speakers learn English. Korea is a very important market for the test.”
Nido opens new accommodation in London
Student accommodation provider, Nido Student Living, is to open Europe’s tallest accommodation block in London, the UK, in September this year.
Nido Spitalfields will accommodate 1,204 students over 31 floors in a mix of single, twin and six-bedroom shared apartments. The new accommodation block will be the largest in the city, exceeding the company’s other student accommodation building, the 1,045-bed Nido King’s Cross, which opened in September 2007.
As at Nido King’s Cross, the new building will provide students with a range of on-site facilities, including a gym, communal lounge, a café and a courtyard, a laundry facility and secure bicycle storage. A cashless vending system will enable students to use the on-site facilities without having to carry cash around and individual swipe cards will act as secure entry keys for student residents.
Maureen McDermott, Director of Student Accommodation at the company, said, “With foreign students bringing in approximately UK£4 billion (US$5.9 billion) a year into the economy, there is a staggering lack of quality student accommodation to support them. British universities provide accommodation for less than a quarter of potential demand. Nido will promote and unite the strength of studies, social development and security providing the ultimate student experience.”
Students staying in the new building will also be able to take part in weekly community events, such as a Nido film society, designed to encourage interaction.
The University Consortium of Intensive English Programs (UCIEP) in the USA has been working towards compulsory accreditation for English language programmes in the USA. Megan Forbes and Cindy Kieffer, Promotions Officers at the organisation, answer our questions.
Full name: University Consortium of Intensive English Programs
Year established: 1967
Number of members: 67
Type of members: Intensive English language providers at colleges and universities in the USA
Association’s main role: Political advocacy, professional development and joint marketing
Government recognition: yes
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: no
c/o Language Institute151 6th St. NW, O’Keefe Building South WingGeorgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0374E-mail: email@example.com
What developments have been made in the USA regarding the compulsory accreditation of all language schools enrolling international students? Has UCIEP been involved in any advocacy regarding this topic?
UCIEP, TESOL and AAIEP are still working to advocate in the Senate and House to pass legislation (S.1338 and H.R.2361) for the accreditation of English language training programmes. Advocacy representatives of all the organisations feel that this legislation is important as it will ensure that students who are applying to ESL programmes for study will have the comfort of knowing that these programmes follow strict professional guidelines and will be of good quality. UCIEP in particular encourages that concerned parties join this advocacy effort and contact their representatives to seek support for the passage of this bill.
How is the market faring for language programmes attached to universities and colleges in the USA? What challenges are they currently facing?
A majority of Intensive English programmes report an increase or are holding close to the previous years’ enrolment numbers. The increase is mainly due to students from China and the Middle East. Challenges include managing enrolment, identifying adequate classroom space, maintaining a balance of student diversity and recruiting highly qualified instructors.
What promotional activities has your association been involved in on behalf of members over the last 12 months?
UCIEP has been active in recruiting additional programme members and has worked closely with AAIEP and TESOL to create a joint position statement on governance for English language instruction at institutions of higher education level.
What plans do you have for the future?
UCIEP offered a four-hour pre-conference workshop on the Basics of IEP Administration at the NAFSA conference in June. UCIEP will also continue its advocacy for compulsory accreditation.
• Finland’s national carrier, Finnair, has vowed to become a strategic player in the aviation industry by tapping into the lucrative Asian market. Despite suffering operating losses of e25.9 million (US$33.9 million) in the first quarter of 2010, the airline is adamant the secret to recovery lies in its relationship with Asian hubs such as Japan. Finnair currently runs a daily service to the Japanese capital, Tokyo; however, a daily flight to Osaka and an additional sixth flight per week to Nagoya have also been earmarked. “Helsinki is the ideal stopover location in traffic between Japan and Europe due to short flight times,” said Finnair’s Vice President Route Strategy and Traffic Planning, Petteri Kostermaa. “Business passengers especially value Finnair’s flight frequency and good connections to Europe,” he added.
• US-based carriers United and Continental have signed a US$3.2 billion merger deal that will see the joint carrier become one of the world’s largest airlines. The new carrier, which will retain the name United, will fly passengers to approximately 370 destinations in 59 countries around the world and will usurp Delta Airlines to become the US market leader with a combined seven per cent global market share. “We are creating a stronger, more efficient airline better positioned to succeed in a dynamic and highly competitive global industry,” stated United CEO, Glenn Tilton.
• India’s second largest carrier, Jet Airways, is expanding into Africa by launching daily non-stop services from Mumbai, India to Johannesburg, South Africa. Onward connections to several destinations including Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Kruger National Park and East London have also been touted by the airline. The move, which coincides nicely with the impending Fifa World Cup, will mark the airlines 23rd international destination. “Given the strong linkages between India and South Africa, and the large number of people of Indian origin living in and working in South Africa, we believe that there is untapped potential and this new route promises to serve the needs of our discerning corporate and leisure flyers”, added Nikos Kardassis, CEO of Jet Airways.
• The Qatari government is said to be reconsidering its plan to make visitors obtain tourist or business visas before they travel to the emirate state. Thirty-four countries would be affected by the new regulation, including the United Kingdom, the USA and several Asian nations. Traditionally, visas had been granted upon arrival, however, sources say the new reform could have stemmed from the governments call for reciprocity between itself and other nations. Earlier, airline and tourism related businesses warned that if the plan were to be carried forward it could have a detrimental effect on the country’s economic growth. “It would have been a self inflicted wound on a country that desires to be a business and intellectual hub,” stated Gary Wasserman, a Professor at Georgetown University in Qatar.
• Consumer Reports (CR), a US publication that analyses consumer products and services, has revealed that having to pay excess baggage charges and dealing with rude staff causes the most resentment among travellers. Flight delays and overbooking also topped the list of things US pollers found most irritating about car rental, airline and hotel operators. “Two themes emerged. One of them was added fees. That really irritated people regardless of the industry,” said Mark Kotkin, Director of Survey Research at CR. “For airlines, in particular, it was the new luggage charges.”
• Dubai’s first low-cost carrier, flydubai, is continuing its aggressive expansion plans by launching thrice-weekly flights to the Indian city of Lucknow. Still in its first year of commercial operations, the service marks the seventh new route announcement in one month. Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai, said, “We hope to continue to work closely with the Indian authorities to the benefit of both our countries and in time expand our operations to serve more Indian cities which are currently underserved by direct links to the UAE.” The airline now flies to 20 destinations worldwide including Beirut in the Lebanon, Amman in Jordan, Damascus and Aleppo in Syria, Alexandria in Egypt and Djibouti in Africa, Doha in Qatar, Baku in Azerbaijan, Khartoum in the Sudan, Bahrain, Kathmandu in Nepal, Muscat in Oman and Kuwait.
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