Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Do you place students into universities overseas and if so, how does the placement process differ from working with private language schools?
Ali Isil, Senior Counsellor, Alternatif Education Counseling Services, Turkey
“Applying for a university in pursuit of a degree is different from applying for a language school programme. Equally it is not easy or difficult but different working with language schools in terms of the application process, evaluation period, methods of payment... Compared with language school counselling, it requires being familiar with the subjects that prospective students are interested in and the subjects may vary from agriculture to zoology. As university placement counsellors, we are expected to make the right choice for our students. Some universities ask for a deposit fee in order to secure the place, while some others are satisfied with just getting the written and signed confirmation letter. Accepting/declining offers is a big issue for both institutions and students. For popular institutions it is important to notify the school on time. As far as making payments are concerned, even for our partner institutions, we don’t charge any deposit or tuition fees as students pay their fees directly to the schools. Depending on the duration of the programme, university students are considered long-term students so they are much more demanding. It means a long-term relationship for each party, as well as the agent. During this relationship the international office of universities is required to handle international students’ social, academic and cultural problems. Many institutions provide on-campus accommodation to both undergraduate and post-graduate students. Undergraduate students mostly prefer to stay on campus while post-graduates enjoy off-campus accommodation options.”
Jesús Vela-Alvizu, Director, Universitas Travel & Study, Mexico
“Yes we do, for language courses as well as for degree programmes. The main differences when working with universities are the more complex paperwork to prepare, a less flexible course calendar and the fact that the information is not always clear or complete. It is quite common to make further enquiries as universities are not as precise as many private language providers. Response for confirmations is usually slower than with private schools. We found also that they do not work closely with their homestay families as smaller schools do and of course commission is usually lower (10-15 per cent) than that which private schools pay. However, their main assets are their facilities and activities on-campus, halls of residence, sports, etc, as well as the opportunity to interact with local students. In conclusion, I would say that it is harder [to work with universities] as it is not always easy to find your contact person as they travel overseas most of the time and you have to contact different people. The payment procedure differs in the fact that you can’t deduct commission beforehand and you have to send payment in full and wait for your commission. This procedure is more expensive as double bank fees apply for the double wire transfers involved. Some universities have a policy of paying once the student concludes his/her studies. Sometimes it takes days to translate and understand university brochures or prospectuses because they are not clear or do not show relevant information. I once requested a client’s accommodation and the university replied that the option was available through a special agreement with a nearby college, but it was mentioned as an option in their promotional material! However, university placements are one of our key marketing tools as we offer several options to students and not many agencies are willing to work with this sector.”
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, Edmonds Community College in Lynwood, WA, USA nominates Litz USA in Hong Kong. Martha Acosta-Pieters at the college explains this decision.
“Litz has been the cornerstone of our college recruitment efforts for over 12 years. This agency not only has a great professional and knowledgeable staff, but they do a great job orienting students before they come to the USA.
Students arrive at our campus well prepared and with clear and realistic expectations of all the services and programmes that the college offers. The staff at Litz take personal interest in every student they recruit. They are prompt in returning emails and all enquiries from the college staff and students. I visit this agency twice a year and every time it is like coming home and visiting relatives.
This special treatment transfers to the students they recruit and this is something that you can’t get everywhere these days. In a competitive market such as Hong Kong, Litz is well known and recognised as one of the best and most reputable educational agencies and we are very fortunate to be partners with them. We look forward to many more years of close collaboration.”
On the move
Niamh O’Mahony has recently been appointed Marketing Manager of DCU Language Services in Dublin City University, Ireland. Her responsibilities include the promotion of the translation and interpreting services along with an extensive range of English language courses. She said, “I am delighted to have the opportunity to be involved with such a progressive company.”
Kate Cragoe has recently moved from Germany to join the team at Cicero Languages International in Tunbridge Wells, UK, where she is responsible for courses for young learners at five centres in the UK. She is also the Agent Support Manager for Cicero’s overseas agents.
SILC in France is pleased to announce that Noémie Fleury has been appointed Manager of the inbound department. She has been in the company for five years. Her experience and great competence dealing with group operations led her to take over from Nathalie Deslande when she left last year.
John McDonough, formerly Programme Manager for the Study Group USA placement division, has relocated to Beijing, China. He is now USA Programmes Manager for China and heads up a team dedicated to agent training and support with regard to US private high school and university placement. Meanwhile, Jesse Ro has joined the Study Group USA placement division as Programme Manager with responsibility for the Korean market.
The School of English at Queen’s University in Canada has appointed Elaine Armstrong as the new Director. Ms Armstrong has previously taught at the School of English, the International Study Centre and the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University, which is based in Kingston, Ontario.
Thais Sá is the new Manager for Central de Intercambio (CI) Incoming Programmes in Brazil. With five years of experience in internship exchange programmes, her main aim is to develop the CI agency inbound department, furthering exciting programme possibilities for foreign students in Brazil.
The French language school association, FLE.fr, has been active in challenging visa regulations that are damaging the industry. Alain Foubert, Director of Development, answers our questions.
Agence de Promotion du Français Langue Etrangère
Year established: 1993
Number of members: 43
Type of members:
Language schools teaching French to foreign students
Association’s main role: Promote French language schools overseas and look after the interests of members
Between 1997 and 2007, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has listed FLE in their annual report as a professional group alongside L’Adcuefe, Souffle and L’Office.
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: no
Agent workshops/fam trips: no
Contact details: Alain Foubert, Director of Development, Agence de promotion du FLE, 17 bis avenue du Professeur Grasset, Montpellier, 34090, France
Tel: +33 467523040
What is the latest situation vis-a-vis the government’s intention to limit FLE students to a study duration of less than three months, unless they are intending further academic study?
A majority of the FLE.fr centres have sent letters expressing their concern to the Deputies [members of the National Assembly], who have passed on their questions directly to the National Assembly. The French state links FLE centres’ ministerial accreditation with visa obtention, which is contradictory to what was said during the meetings between the three government departments and the associations at the Centre International d’Etudes Pedagogiques. If this situation doesn’t resolve itself, FLE.fr is intending to bring the matter to the European Court of Justice.
How has this situation united various language study associations in the country?
On December 8 last year, due to their major concerns over the situation, the representatives of the various state and private associations of French as a foreign language (FLE) centres including L’Adcuefe, Alliance Française, FLE.fr, L’Office and Souffle met up to discuss the subject and ask the state authorities to officially and clearly assure that learning French as a foreign language in France should be considered as a study project in order to obtain a visa for a long period of stay, whatever the initial language level of the applicant. The associations have agreed to meet up again with the intention to set up a legal structure in order to challenge the state authorities.
Has the FLE market suffered as a result of current policy?
After the new measures were implemented, several FLE centres have lost clients. Accent Français in Montpellier reported the case of a Californian adult who got her visa refused because she could study French at the Alliance Française in San Francisco and there was no need for her to go to France. Another visa application by the son of an Armenian businessman was refused because they thought he could go and study French at the Alliance Française in Tirana.
Delegates at Alphe Latin America were treated to an evening at a traditional churrasceria on the first night of the conference. Left, Scott Wade from Alphe and Vanessa Milner from Milner School of English in the UK and Australia sample some of the many meat-based delights on offer that night. Meanwhile (right), Carlos Dallapiccola from Wesbrasil in Brazil, May Arthur from The Olin Center in the USA, Antonio Bacelar from Via Mundo in Brazil and Gwendolyne Guzman and partner from the University of California San Diego in the USA practise their networking skills after enjoying a hearty meal.
The Work Experience Travel Market and IAPA annual conference was held in Riga, Latvia this year. Organisers laid on dinner and drinks for participants at the historic Blackheads House. Here, caught admiring the museum exhibits while also enjoying the wine on offer, are Kathryn Powell from Cherish Childcare in the UK, Joanne Sayer from Twin in the UK, Carolle Raynor from Aspect Internships in the UK, Oxana Bushkova from Phoenix-NT in Russia and Luisa Sanchez from Infort in Spain.
For the fifth year in a row, names and faces from the cutting-edge of English language teaching development mingled in London earlier this year to see who would win a British Council Innovation Award, known as an Elton. No language schools were in the shortlist this year, but creative learning solutions in the form of CD-Roms or online learning tools were honoured. Pictured, Gavin Dudeney and Nicky Hockly of Consultants-E pick up an award for their ICT in the Classroom online course. The course aims to enable teachers to incorporate online technology into lessons.