|The total number of students placed by the 20 agencies in our survey was 3,396
Individual agencies placed between nine and 830 students on courses per year
Average business growth was 15.6 per cent in the last 12 months
The average length of stay for CE European students was 18 weeks (ranging from one week to 83 weeks)
Overall, 54 per cent of CE European students preferred residential accommodation when studying overseas
The largest percentage of CE European students (38 per cent) were studying abroad with further study overseas in mind
Language study is the largest sector of the study abroad market for CE European agencies (73 per cent)
|Most popular course requests
||Average percentage of agency business by sector
|1. Junior 28%
2. Summer 23.5%
4. General 13%
5. Intensive 10%
6. International 7. Baccalaureate/A-level 7%
8. Business 4%
9. University foundation 4%
10. Academic/exam prep. 3.5%
11. Under- or postgraduate 3%
12. Language plus work 2%
||1. Language 2. programmes73%
3. Higher education 15%
4. Secondary education abroad 8%
5. Internships 1%
6. Work and Travel 1%
7. Volunteering 1%
|Reasons for studying overseas
1. Further studies
2. overseas 38%
3. Further studies at home 25%
4. Future work 14%
5. Pleasure 12%
6. Current work 8%
||1. UK 60%
2. Malta 9%
3 USA 8%
4. Germany 6%
5. Canada 5%
6. Australia 2%
7. France 1%
8. Ireland 1%
9. Italy 1%
10. Spain 1%
|How do agents recruit students?
||How do agencies find new schools to represent?
|1. Word-of-mouth 38%
2. Website 34%
3. E/online marketing 12%
4. Seminars to students 5%
5. Mail shots 5%
6. Advertising in press/
7. TV/radio 2%
||1. b2b conferences 53%
2. Internet 22%
4. Language fairs and student expos 7%
Study Travel Magazine defines Central and Eastern (CE) Europe as comprising 22 countries that extend east from Germany to the borders of Greece in the south. By and large, Russia accounts for the greatest proportion of outbound students from this source area, but given that we analyse this market regularly (see STM, April 2013, pages 18-19) we have excluded it from this survey. Collectively we received data from agents in Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Albania, Macedonia, Belarus and the Ukraine this region sent 3,396 students abroad for study purposes in the last 12 months. Participants varied in size from small (sending nine students in the last year) to medium (sending 830 students).
According to Adela Makashi at the Albani agency ANDE-LM, sales in the region’s outbound market have grown exponentially. Indeed, economic confidence is high and is certainly reflected in the average business growth figure recorded by participating agencies: 15.6 per cent. Analysing this on an individual basis, 13 respondents reported a business increase of between one and 100 per cent over the past 12 months. Three agencies recorded stable business, while three noted a business decline of between five and 30 per cent. The 20 per cent business increase at DEC Group in the Ukraine is attributable to traditional social factors, says Director Natalia Tarchenko, such as a growing customer interest in foreign education. Average length of stay (18 weeks) was particularly high, ranging from one week to 83 weeks. And agency clients are more drawn to academic or long-term programmes than in the past, notes Tarchenko, a trend also observed by Oksana Chmykhaloand at BN Education Group in the Ukraine.
Language and destination trends
English was the most requested language to study abroad, according to surveyed agents, with English programmes representing 85 per cent of the combined total. Four agencies reported that 100 per cent of their business was geared towards English study. The next language of note was German (eight per cent). Given students’ preference for English language instruction, principal English-speaking destinations like the UK (60 per cent), Malta (nine per cent), the USA (eight per cent) and Canada (five per cent) featured highly in the list of requested destinations. Distance is clearly no object for some students in the region (100 per cent of one agency’s business was purely for programmes in Australia). Makashi agrees, noting that there is great interest for language learning and cultural exchange in “far away destinations”.
Student and course trends
Students from CE Europe have very clear goals for study. According to respondents, 38 per cent of clients indicated that they intended to continue on to further study once abroad. A quarter, meanwhile, anticipated that they would utilise the skills picked up overseas and apply them to further study in their home country. Course choice proved a mixed bag. On average, 28 per cent of student clients requested junior programmes. One agent noted that junior programmes represent 75 per cent of all outbound business. Junior courses were closely followed by summer vacation programmes (23.5 per cent). As is custom, the summer sector is saturated with younger learners, signifying how important this segment of the market is to these agents. “We expect an increase in demand on language travel programmes this summer,” says Tarchenko in the Ukraine. “People would like to use their vacations with benefit to study languages,” she adds. Secondary (seven per cent) and tertiary level programming (seven per cent) were requested by a good percentage of agency clientele.
In terms of business by sector, secondary and higher education abroad are well represented, accounting for an eight and 15 per cent respective share. However, agencies in the area have a long-established relationship with the language learning sector, and this proved a constant source of business over the year (73 per cent). Economic conditions in the Ukrainian market have been “deplorable”, notes Tarchenko, with the country experiencing minimal GDP growth in 2012 (0.5 per cent). But educational business has managed to circumnavigate this.
As is the case with all markets, however, it is at the mercy of customer interest. “We depend more on the b2b sphere and customers’ interest which continues to grow in spite of all deteriorations,” she says. Interestingly, four agencies noted that between 90 and 100 per cent of all new partner schools sourced in the last 12 months were borne out of meetings at a b2b workshop. After an economic slump in 2009 and 2010, Albania experienced a slight reprieve in 2011, says Makashi, which continued well into 2012. Such market inconsistencies have resulted in clients becoming more discerning in their approach to bookings, she adds. As such, she says, agent knowledge about destinations, schools, programme provision and visa processes should be “impeccable”.
University study in Denmark, Sweden, Holland and the UK is primed to increase, notes one agent. Another predicts a turnover increase aided by the exploration of newer markets and new programmes, particularly geared towards university study. Many more predict sustained or increased growth over the coming year, emphasising the hardiness of the outbound study abroad market despite testing economic conditions both at home and abroad.
CE Europe Key Facts
In order of population size, CE Europe comprises: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Belarus, Serbia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lithuania, Albania, Latvia, Macadonia, Slovenia, Kosovo, Estonia and Montenegro
Combined population: 321,533,700 including Russia and the Czech Republic*
Demographic trends: “Most of the countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have populations that are aging rapidly,” said a report by The World Bank. “By 2025, the median age will be more than 10 years greater than it is now in about half the countries in the region.”
“A common view is that aging societies can expect reduced levels of domestic savings because older people save less and that low savings will lead to lower capital accumulation, which, in turn, will depress investment and growth,” added the report.
Sources: *CIA Factbook, The World Bank
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in this survey:
LLC EF, Ukraine; Eurotrend, Slovakia; International Language Travel, Hungary; IEC - International Education Center, Romania; ANDE-LM, Albania; Almatramp, Poland; Smartup Travel, Ukraine; ibis Travel Agency, Slovakia; American English School, Ukraine; Australian Migration Office, Macedonia; DEC Education, Ukraine; IQ Group, Ukraine; Linkturs, Latvia; Streamline Education Agency, Belarus; Dr Bubo, Slovakia; Studex, Ukraine; Jazkove Pobyty MORE, Slovakia; Mirunette International Education, Romania; Trawell Service, Slovakia; Edulinguas, Poland.
We have also excluded the Czech Republic as we last analysed this outbound student market in the January 2013 issue (see STM, January 2013, pages 18-19).