Reviews and forecasts at English UK AGM
English UK member schools suffered business declines caused by the 2012 London Olympics, but “it was a pretty good year overall” for the language school association, said Chief Executive, Tony Millns, at this year’s English UK Annual Conference and AGM. The event featured projections for the UK’s ELT market and insights on government strategy.
Millns reflected that membership increased from 455 to 464 during 2012, new sub-groups were formed in London and the east of England and there was an increase in overseas missions.
Private language school members suffered a 7.8 per cent decline in students, according to English UK’s provisional data. “The decrease is almost entirely accounted for by the 2012 Olympics,” said Millns. However, the 85 state sector members recorded collective growth of two per cent.
The average number of junior student weeks declined to a more “normal” 2.9 weeks, down from four in 2011, while the adult average remained steady at 5.6. Italy was the top market in 2012, followed by Spain and Brazil, and these top three source countries had a 28 per cent market share in total. This made the UK less dependent on core markets than some of its competitors, said Millns.
Regarding immigration concerns, Millns said there was “a general acceptance within the Home Office that there isn’t significant abuse of the ESVV [extended student visitor visa] or SVV [student visitor visa] routes”, adding that the former would need to be written into immigration rules soon.
Tom Strachan and Fran Sprawls from the government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) outlined how education exports have been earmarked as a key industrial strategy sector, explaining that BIS plans to develop a coherent UK education brand to market overseas. Strachan presented research on the global value of ELT based on Study Travel Magazine’s annual Global Market Reports.
English language market reports on Japan and Russia, the latest in British Council’s collaborative series with English UK, were also unveiled at the conference.
Tatsuhiko Hoshino, Founder of the Japanese agency Rising Star and author of the Japan report, outlined the potential opportunities created by the forthcoming “Toefl shock” the Japanese government is considering making the Toefl test mandatory for entry to public universities and civil service positions as well as the growing globalisation of Japanese workforces.
Patrik Pavlacic, Head of the Research Department at StudentMarketing and author of the report on Russia, said the UK was the preferred ELT destination for 63 per cent of students, according to their survey of 65 Russian agencies. Russia was also the second fastest growing market for English UK private sector members between 2009 and 2011.
Other presentations at the two-day conference included projections of ELT trends up to 2020 by StudentMarketing and Brazilian outbound trends by STB Travel. English UK Chair, Sue Edwards, praised the diversity of the conference, and said, “What struck me on the first day is that we are learning from what we already know, thinking about current challenges but looking to the future.”
GSM London opens English school
GSM London, an independent higher education institution, has established an English language school at its Greenford campus in the UK capital.
Offering undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes in fields such as business, management and law, as well as specialisms including oil and gas management, GSM London said it recognised the need to support international students with English language provision.
The GSM English school is based at the Greenford campus, located in Zone 4, West London, and is accepting students every Monday. General English and Ielts preparation courses are available from a duration of two weeks up to 11 months for students on student visitor visas or extended student visitor visas. Tier 4 students due to commence degree courses at GSM London may be also eligible to study English preparation courses.
The ELT school will have an in-house Ielts test centre, and facilities on offer for students include a learning resource centre, a canteen and free Wi-Fi, while GSM London can also assist students with finding accommodation in the city.
Emma Buckby, Regional Director of GSM London, led the development of the English school project. “GSM London already has a great name for supporting its students at the school, and now it has the opportunity to extend this to students who want to improve their English or prepare themselves effectively for academic study in the UK or elsewhere,” she said.
GSM London was established 40 years ago as the Greenwich School of Management, and has since welcomed over 20,000 students to its Greenwich and Greenford campuses in the UK’s capital city.
Alphe Taiwan set for 2014
Alphe Conferences has announced Taipei, capital of Taiwan as their latest destination, with the inaugural event taking place on February 23, following on from the Alphe Asia conference in Bangkok, Thailand.
Held at the Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, the tallest hotel in Taipei, the three-day event will feature scheduled 30-minute meetings and networking opportunities, including the Directors’ Club drinks reception.
Stephanie Helliwell, Alphe Manager, said, “New Felca member IECA has over 100 agencies as members in Taiwan, which makes it one of the biggest study travel agency associations in the world. Many of these agencies also have connections and businesses in mainland China. Alphe is looking forward to working with IECA to bring educators to Taiwan to meet with these quality agencies.”
Declines but positive signs for Australia in 2012
The number of overseas students at Australia’s Elicos (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) schools declined by seven per cent in 2012. However, a one per cent growth in student weeks, as well as increases in several source markets, have given the industry cautious cause for optimism.
A total of 124,603 students commenced English language programmes in the country last year, according to the English Australia ELICOS Industry Statistics Report for 2012. The total economic impact of these students was valued at AUS$1.459 billion (US$1.473 billion), a slight decline on the previous year, but the average spend per student was up to AUS$11,709 (US$11,826).
As previously reported, the number of student visa students in the Elicos sector increased during 2012 (see STM, April 2013, page 6). However, the number of students on all other visa types, including visitor visa and working holiday visas, declined. Subsequently, student visa holders accounted for 61 per cent of all Elicos students, compared with 54 per cent in 2011.
The growth in student visa students has also fuelled an increase in the average study period, rising from 11.2 weeks to 12.3 weeks. Student visa holders studied for an average of 16.3 weeks. In this month’s STM Market Analysis feature (page 47), English Australia Executive Director, Sue Blundell, said evidence suggested a growth in pathway programmes, reflecting the appeal of new post-study work rights.
In terms of source markets, the top three recorded the largest declines: China (-3,824), South Korea (-2,726) and Japan (-2,157), with the smaller drop from Japan seeing it leapfrog Korea into second place.
Blundell said some Chinese students may have switched destinations, but added, “Despite student numbers being down, the average course length increased, leading to an increase in the number of weeks.” Meanwhile, Japanese declines were in the tourist segment, while the more serious segment was growing in response to Japan’s current focus on developing human capital.
The largest increases came from Colombia (+1,273), Italy (+502) and Spain (+417), while Thailand, Russia and Vietnam also grew in numbers. Blundell said Australia’s strong economy, job opportunities, strong currency and student visa work rights were attractive to students from Southern Europe.
In other Australian news, English Australia has collaborated with the country’s six other international education peak bodies to outline an action plan in a joint communique addressed to all political parties ahead of the 2013 Federal Election.
The joint statement called on the government to announce acceptance of the Chaney Report and to begin implementation of the recommendations in collaboration with the education sector, and also urged the development of a five-year national strategy as a national priority.
Regulation for Nova Scotia’s language schools
The government of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, NS, has become the first in the country to regulate language schools.
The Languages Schools Act, introduced by the Labour and Advanced Education Minister, Frank Corbett, requires language schools to offer a quality education and protect students’ investments in the event of a school closing.
“Our priority is students. We value our international students and they should not have to worry about the quality of their education,” said Corbett. “This legislation will protect students and allow them to study at schools that value high-quality education for as long as it takes to complete their studies.”
Nova Scotia’s accredited languages schools and their accrediting body Languages Canada welcomed the legislation, which would align the province’s language sector with the federal’s government’s proposed changes to the International Student Program, requiring language schools to be designated by their respective provinces in order to accept international students on study permits.
Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director of Languages Canada, said, “This is a milestone for language education in Canada, and we hope to see other Canadian jurisdictions quickly follow suit.”
Niagara College unveils new International Centre
Niagara College, Canada, has unveiled a new dedicated centre for overseas students at its Welland Campus, and announced that the facility will be named the Segal International Centre in honour of the Segal family, owners of international student insurance provider guard.me and long-time supporters of the college.
The 8,000 square-foot facility is located on the first floor of the Simcoe Building and is designed to accommodate the college’s growing international enrolment and activities. The open-concept design features a reception and service area that will include international admissions, housing and financial aid services, along with offices and work space, English language programmes and international development projects.
“The expansion was driven by the significant growth of our international enrolment, and our efforts to expand the international learning opportunities that we offer students,” said Sean Kennedy, Niagara College’s Vice President of Student and External Relations. “The centre’s design follows our centralised-service model and reflects our desire to provide excellent service that supports our students’ satisfaction and success.”
The name of the centre reflects a CAN$500,000 (US$483,000) contribution from Keith and Sharon Segal, along with years of support for Niagara College scholarships and learning resources. The donation will fund further scholarships, international learning opportunities and educational resources.
ISIS acquires UIC
UK-based language school group ISIS Education has announced the acquisition of United International College (UIC), a multi-language training company with a year-round school in Central London and three residential summer programmes.
“The acquisition works well both from a business and people perspective,” said ISIS Director David Brown. “Our two companies share many similar work practices and values, and a Central London location offering courses to both adults and groups is a perfect complement to our five other year-round destinations.”
UIC Directors, David Wilkins and Neil Upton, take senior roles within the ISIS team. The move follows ISIS’s recent purchase of two schools in Canada operating under the Eurocentres brand.