Q&A Agent association
This month, Marta Galea, Secretaria General of Spanish agency association Aseproce, answers our questions.
Full name: Spanish Association of Promoters of Courses Abroad
Year established: 1987
Number of members: 68
Association’s main role: To promote the quality and professionalism of language & education travel consultants
Government recognition: no
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: yes
What has been the main focus of Aseproce in the last year?
Aseproce held its 26th Annual General Meeting in the city of Almería, with the invaluable collaboration of our member agency based in Almería, Active Global English House. 2012 was a great year for consolidating Aseproce as a referral for language programmes, improving the other goal of the association, which is to help agency members have a greater presence in the Spanish market. Our student fair "Salon de los Idiomas" increased the number of visitors both in Madrid and Barcelona.
How has Aseproce been involved in regulating the industry?
Aseproce has decided to approve a "self-regulated code" for the companies that belong to the association. This code clearly defines the requirements applicable to the promoters of language courses abroad, extending it to schools, agents, etc. Specifically, it defines the levels of the service quality of teaching abroad, of any of the services related: courses, teachers, monitors, hosting, maintenance, activities, transfers, or any other service that forms part of a study programme abroad. Right now we are in a process of establishing the model of implementation and certification of quality of our code.
How has aseproce tackled unfair competition among agencies in spain?
Aseproce is going to launch an informative campaign aimed at those people that provide language courses abroad that are not legally considered as such and therefore are unjust competition. Aseproce aspires to ensure that within the market of language courses abroad, all companies carry out their business in accordance with the law and with full loyalty between the participants in the market.
There is a growing trend for ELT within Asia. How will this affect members?
Some members are still reluctant to send students to language providers in Asia while others like to do it because they have found there is a market for “less expensive” school seekers. Where there is a market, there are agencies, however. Agencies in Japan are afraid of getting less commission from sending students to schools in Asia.
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. What are your feelings concerning agent training schemes?
Birger Reinhardt Larsen, SIOC DA - Study In AnOther Country, Norway
" For us in SIOC, it is very important that our partner schools are a member of or affiliated with one of the many international language school organisations or associations. Looking at the schools that we work with, or at least in our database of international language schools, this figure is over 85 per cent. In my opinion, being a member of an association means thinking more on quality than on profit. Schools are always looking at the cost of being a member of a school association, but I think that they have to look at a membership as an investment in the future, to expand the business. It is very important for us agents to meet the school representatives at workshops and fam trips. We do not just meet management, but also get chance to visit the school itself. On a few occasions, we've also got to meet some of the students, which is just as important."
Ilya Dolgonos, Studex, Ukraine
"For me it is quite important that a partner is a part of the industry or school association. I would say that about 90 per cent of our partner educational institutions are members already. To me personally it is like the initial screening - I can be sure that somebody has already checked the school's standards. In Ukraine there was a Ukrainian Association of International Education and Exchange Agencies (AIEEA) formed and we along with the other 14 agencies are the founding members. The association is sure to grow, but there are standards set to make sure that only experienced and qualified agents can become a part of it. As for the associations that are active in the Ukrainian market I would definitely like to distinguish Languages Canada. They are the ones you would see even if you have your eyes closed! They do trade missions to Ukraine, they invite agents from Ukraine for the fam trips in Canada every year, they keep in touch with agents and inform us about any significant event that is happening - they are just doing a very good job. The other associations I know and can say that they are active are Quality English and Study in Poland (Perspektywy Educational Foundation). They also did a meeting with agents in the Ukraine. I think that being active in the specific country actually helps the association develop the market and create a demand. As for the Ukraine - I do believe that Australia and New Zealand could be more active, also - we lack presence in the USA and Asia (China, Japan, India). Those countries might be oriented for different markets, but one or two meetings a year would help bring positive results. The Ukrainian market is growing and it sure needs new contacts and direction."
Gianluigi Rago, Quality Travel Infotraining, Italy
"Almost each one of our partner schools is a member of a school association or organisation. As a member of Ialca, we believe the association is not just a label or a mark to show, it's a community where members share ideas, values, quality standards and activities to benefit members, business partners and customers. Moreover schools that are a member of an association are accredited and have to fulfil at least basic standards. It doesn't matter how big they are and how strong their marketing impact is. In our case we are a small agency and we work with several small, very good schools which became our partners because they belong to associations, and we met them during a trade mission or fam trip organised by their organisation. We have good communication with almost all associations and we have good relationship especially with Languages Canada, English Australia, Quality English, English UK, MEI, Feltom and Fedele."
Agency of the month
In a series appearing each month in Study Travel Magazine, we ask a different teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agency partners, and to explain why they are worthy of this nomination.
This month Accent Français in France nominates Stein Study Abroad in Ireland. Stéphanie Ang, Sales Manager at the school, explains this decision.
"We would like to nominate Stein Study Abroad as Agency of the Month. We have been working together for five years now and they are not only professional and reliable, but also reactive and I have not mentioned yet how friendly they are. Everything between us is transparent, we agree on all terms and conditions which is very important, especially when we talk about clients. Both of our organisations are open to communication and when something happens, good or bad, it is always an opportunity for us to improve our services and strengthen our collaboration. When the communication is good and the partners have a balanced relationship, it can only work well. We are very proud that they entrust their clients to Accent Français for such a long time and we all hope it will continue!"
" We are honoured to be nominated by Accent Français as Study Travel Magazine's Agency of the Month. We thoroughly enjoy working with the professional team at the school to continuously provide innovative French language courses for our students."
Alex Stein, Stein Study Abroad, Ireland