July 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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Australia hopeful

Australian language schools have been suffering from a decline in student numbers for the last four years but the latest evidence from statistics and schools points to a change towards more positive fortunes in 2013. Bethan Norris finds out more.

USA language schools’ marketing budget by region (overall %) Top nationalities in the USA by student weeks – according to schools, 2012
Asia 34%
Latin America 20%
W Europe 18.5%
C&E Europe 10%
Australasia 9.5%
Middle East 6%
Africa 1%
North America 1%
Japanese 12.4%
Korean 11%
Brazilian 10.3%
Chinese 8.6%
Colombian 7.5%
Swiss 7.4%
Taiwanese 4.2%
Vietnamese 4%
Thai 3.8%
Saudi Arabian 3.6%

Source: STM Status survey on Australia

Commission Student numbers by age range
24% is the average comission paid on a language course

11% is the average paid for commission on accommodation by one of the institutions profiled

12-15 0.5%
16-18 5%
19-24 50%
25-30 31%
31-50 13%
50+ 0.5%

Means of recruiting students in Australia, 2012 Reasons for learning English
Agents 76%
Internet 10.5%
Local bookings 8%
Other means 5.5%
Current or future work 43%
Further studies in Australia 30%
University/college studies at home 11.5%
For pleasure only 8%
Further studies in another English speaking country 7.5%

Student's region of origin How did students find out about their school
Asia 50%
Western Europe 19%
Latin America 15%
Middle East 10%
Central and Eastern Europe 6%
Agent 54%
Friend/relative 27%
Internet 17%
Advertising 2%

Total marketing spend by sector and by category in %
Agency costs 42%

Commission 30%
Incentives 6%
Agency brochures 6%

Travel costs 39%

Trips to agencies 14%
Student exhibitions 12.5%
Agent workshops 7%
Agency visits to school 3%
Entertainment 2.5%

Publicity costs 19%

Brochure, video etc 9%
Internet 5%
Agent mags 2%
Student mags etc 3%

Ask the students – view from the classroom

93 students from 24 different countries took part in our survey of language schools in Australia

The average age was 25 years
The average class size was 12 students
50 per cent of respondents were from Asia
15 per cent of respondents were from Latin America
67 per cent of respondents booked their course through an agency
17 per cent of respondents found their school through the Internet
95 per cent of respondents would recommend their school
61 per cent of respondents were staying in homestay accommodation
46 per cent of respondents were learning English for current or future work purposes
55 per cent of respondents found it very easy or quite easy to practise their English with local people
18 per cent of students had been on a previous study abroad trip
15 per cent of respondents thought that there were too many students who spoke the same language as them in the classroom

Number of participating organisations: 17
Total number of students at the organisations in 2012: 22,476
Total number of student weeks in 2012, estimated: 285,445
Participating schools: Ability English; ACU English Language Centre; Australian Institute of Professional Education; Baxter Institute; Bayside International English College; Byron Bay English Language School; English Language Company; ICTE-UQ; ILSC Education Group; International House Sydney; Langports; Language Links; Lexis English; Macquarie University English Language Centre; Perth International College of English; RMIT English Worldwide; Wide Bay Institute of Tafe.

12.7 weeks Overall average length of stay

20 hours Average language tuition per week

Language schools in Australia have been having a hard time of it over the last few years due to the introduction of legislative changes combined with a period of negative press overseas as a result of a number of high-profile school closures in the country. Therefore it is refreshing to see some positive signs within the industry that the fortunes of the incoming language travel sector may be about to change.

Leanne Everett from Language Links in Perth, WA, says, “We have seen a huge increase [in student numbers] recently. I wouldn’t say over the past 12 months but I would say in the last six months. Up until October last year, numbers were still very low. Towards November we slowly but steadily increased numbers each week and have continued a steady growth until now. Largest nationalities for growth are Korea, Colombia and Italy.”

Stephen Fynmore at Bayside International English College in Melbourne, VIC, agrees that numbers have increased recently and puts this down to the growth of new student markets. “Students have increased about 15 per cent over the last year,” he says. “This is mostly due to the number of Italian and Spanish students leaving the economic circumstances in their home countries to have a year or two – or longer – in Australia. We haven’t introduced any new courses, we’ve just done more marketing amongst the Italian and Spanish communities.”

The increase in numbers of Spanish and Italian students in Australia (percentages of Italian students increased to 3.3 per cent of the student population in 2012 from 1.1 in 2010 and Spanish students increased to 3.1 per cent of the population from 2.1 in 2010, according to our annual Status Survey) is an interesting phenomenon and one that has been seen in other English language destinations recently – for example Ireland (see STM May 2013, page 55-58). Despite Italy and Spain both experiencing an economic decline, students and parents are managing to fund study abroad trips to even long-haul destinations in order to improve their prospects. It seems that students are choosing to travel, study and possibly work overseas for a period of time and gain valuable experience while they wait for their own countries to get back on their feet. As has been seen in world economic declines previously, financial hardship can be a strong catalyst for increasing the numbers of students travelling to study overseas.

Ruby Biscuit from Ability English in Sydney, NSW, says that they have had their strongest year historically with the enrolment of Italian and Spanish students. She adds, “It was also noticeable that we had more diversity in nationalities than in previous years. Admittedly these may have been one enrolment from a plethora of smaller markets, but in my 10 years in the industry I have never seen this before. I haven’t drilled it down but I suspect it could have to do with online sales and marketing.”

Figures from our Status survey on Australia for 2012 show that schools in Australia have been spending their time over the last few years in diversifying their international marketing efforts. Average marketing budgets are now spread more evenly across world regions with the percentage marketing budget spent on Asian countries down from 44 per cent in 2011 to 34 per cent in 2012. In contrast, a greater proportion of the overall budget is being spent in Central and Eastern Europe (10 per cent compared with 5.5 per cent in 2011) and the Middle East (six per cent compared with three per cent previously).

For certain student markets a trend towards using a particular type of visa to study English in Australia is also fuelling an increase. Graham Braden from Wide Bay Institute of Tafe in Hervey Bay, QLD, says that they have seen increasing student numbers from Korea in the last 12 months. “[There has been] an increase in working holiday visa holders applying for student visas,” he says. “There is normally an incident free, simple changeover to a student visa.”

For those English language students entering the country on a student visa – necessary for those intending to study in the country for more than six months – the latest government statistics support anecdotal evidence that numbers are on the increase. The year-to-date figures for March 2013 show an 11.2 per cent increase in the enrolment of language students over the same period the previous year, while the number of new students commencing a course increased by 6.4 per cent. The Elicos sector was the only study abroad sector to show growth in enrolment and commencement figures, while all sectors apart from vocational colleges experienced growth in the number of enrolments.

China, Colombia and Brazil are three of the main source markets for student enrolments at English language schools, according to the visa statistics, and Everett puts this down to huge demand for English language skills in these student markets. “Students are seeking ways to improve their English and employability skills,” she explains. “Brazil has the world cup coming up next year, so there will be huge demand for English speaking workers in Brazil around that time.”

Legislatory changes introduced as a result of the Knight Review could also be having a positive impact on English language enrolments – particularly the increased availability of post-study work rights – as students seek pathway courses to prepare themselves for further study at an Australian university. This is supported by the increase in average length of stay of English language students recorded in our own Status survey on Australia (from 11.4 weeks in 2011 to 12.7 weeks in 2012) as well as in English Australia’s own member survey (see box above).

There is also evidence that schools are experiencing fewer problems to do with visa issuance, which could also be boosting enrolments, as Everett points out. “Visa refusals are still an issue but not as bad as they were this time last year,” she says. For some nationalities, however, visa refusals are still the principal barrier for them to travel to Australia. “We are also still experiencing a 95-to-100 per cent visa refusal rate for students from Bangladesh and Pakistan,” confirms Everett.

Whatever the reasons behind any growth in the English language sector in Australia, schools are certainly welcoming the change as they concentrate on offering the best experience they possibly can to their students. Michael O’Grady from Byron Bay English Language School in Byron Bay, NSW, says that numbers have increased at his school although he is not sure why. “[It is] perhaps [our] reputation as many students tell us that their friends or family studied here!”

Sue Blundell talks to Study Travel Magazine about the results of English Australia's annual member's survey for 2012.

The latest results from English Australia’s annual member survey reveal that the number of English language students in Australia suffered a fourth year of decline in 2012, with overall numbers down by seven per cent. However, this decline was countered by an overall growth in student weeks of one per cent as language students chose to study for longer in the country. In total, the economic impact of 124,603 ELT students in Australia was calculated to be AUS$1.459 billion (US$1.484) in 2012. The top student nationalities of China, South Korea and Japan all suffered the largest declines in numbers in 2012 (down by 3,824, 2,726 and 2,157 students respectively). Meanwhile, Colombia, Italy, Spain, Russia and Vietnam all increased as source markets for Australian schools.

Sue Blundell, Executive Director of English Australia, says, “The Australian Elicos industry has now seen six consecutive months of growth in student visa holder numbers (Sept 2012 – March 2013) which has resulted in many providers expressing cautious optimism regarding the rest of 2013. And although overall numbers were down in 2012, the growth in the number of weeks is also reassuring to an industry hard hit by the decline in previous years.”

She adds, “Anecdotal evidence seems to show that the growth has been in pathway programmes, reflecting the appeal of post-study work rights and the impact of streamlined visa processing, as well as growth at the ‘cheap college’ end of the market. English Australia would urge agents to think very carefully about the quality of the colleges they recruit for – students may express a desire to pay the least amount possible, however if they are not getting the value they expect in terms of quality programmes and services this can only damage the agent’s reputation and future business.”

Thank you to the following schools who participated in our student survey: International House Sydney; Language Studies International; Lexis English; RMIT English Worldwide; Sydney English Academy; University of Tasmania English Language Academy.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

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.






Sakura House  
English Australia  
Feltom Malta  
English Australia  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
eYou Mandarin School  
Harrow College  
INTO University Partnerships  
Kaplan International Colleges  
Prime Education  
London School of Business & Finance  
TUS Advertising  
St Giles International  
GSM (Greenwich School of Management)  
Cambridge Esol  
English For Asia  
Centre of English Studies  
Akamonkai Japanese Language School  
Genki Japanese and Culture School  
Kai Japanese Language School  
Manabi Japanese Language Institute  
Sakura House  
Sendai Language School  
Yokohama International Education Academy  
Clubclass Residential Language School  
Malaca Instituto - Club Hispanico SL  
EF International Language Centers  
Eurocentres International  
Taiwan Mandarin Institute  
Malta Tourism Authority  
Cal America Education Institute  
California School of English  
California State University San Marcos  
ELS Language Centers  
Glenholme School  
IH Pacific (Vancouver, Whistler, San Diego)  
INTERLINK Language Centers  
Madison ESL School  
Spring International Language Center  
University of California Berkeley  
University of California Irvine  
University of California San Diego  
University of Delaware  
University of Maryland Baltimore County  
University of Tennessee at Knoxville  
Zoni Language Centers  

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