Malta records strong growth
The number of international students at English language schools in Malta increased by 18.2 per cent in 2012, according to data just released by the National Statistics Office (NSO).
In total, 81,911 students studied at the 40 registered EFL schools in Malta last year, compared with 69,297 in 2011. The figure was the highest since the 2008 tally of 83,288. Student weeks were also up in 2012 to 226,360, compared with 182,347 the previous year.
Genevieve Abela, CEO of language school association Feltom, welcomed the news. “Our reaction to the newly released data is extremely positive. We feel it comes from a collective effort by the association and government who have been working hard towards a common goal. Together we have invested in quality marketing and quality standards. These results reflect that.”
In terms of student numbers, Italy was the top market with 15,712 students, followed by Germany (11,573) and Russia (11,379). By student weeks Russia emerged as the top source, accounting for 31,917 student weeks, with an average of 2.8 weeks per student. Italy provided 28,120 student weeks at an average of 1.8 per student.
Abela said, “Visas are now being processed in a more timely fashion and there has been a noticeable increase in flight seat capacity for students travelling from Moscow and St Petersburg. In addition, unlike traditional European source markets, Russian students prefer long-term stays of between four and eight weeks, while Europeans generally stay for no more than two weeks. This trend is reflected in the results.”
The Asian and African continents recorded good increases of 165.2 per cent and 192.6 per cent respectively. Abela said that good communication with central visa units and increased flight availability had impacted positively. “These regions are now looking at Malta as a quality English language teaching destination,” she said.
Abela was optimistic that student numbers would continue to increase through 2013. “The policies implemented by the previous government have been adopted by the new government, with visa access far more streamlined and applications for lengthy resident permits also easier. We are also marketing more in emerging markets, showcasing Malta as a centre of excellence in English language teaching,” she said.
UED unveils Turkish student trends at Alphe Istanbul
Turkish agency association UED revealed the results of its annual member survey of outbound Turkish student trends at this year’s Alphe Istanbul Conference. The 40 UED members – who have a combined share of the Turkish agent market totalling 67 per cent – reported on business trends in 2012.
In terms of visa acceptance rates, Belgium, China, France, Ireland, Japan and South Africa approved all student visa applications from UED’s 40 members, with Malta (98 per cent) and the UK (93 per cent) also accepting the vast majority. As previously reported (see STM, January 2013, page 6), UED members have been experiencing unusually high numbers of refusals from the USA, and this led to the acceptance rate dropping 18 percentage points in 2012 to just 77 per cent.
The UK was again the top destination for language study in 2012 (48 per cent), with the USA (24 per cent) in second place and Malta (six per cent) in third. The UK also overtook the USA in higher education enrolments with 47 per cent.
This year’s Alphe Istanbul Conference saw a boost in educator numbers, with 83 delegates representing 80 schools from 13 countries in attendance compared with 72 representatives from 70 schools in 2012. Meanwhile, 108 agents from 90 agencies also an increase attended.
The conference proved to be a success, with both agents and educators giving positive feedback. Andrew Fisher from Oscars International in the UK said, “As usual, Alphe Istanbul was a very well organised conference that mixes formal appointments with more informal networking opportunities.”
Dovetailed with Alphe Istanbul was the first ever trade mission to Turkey by the Canadian Association of Public Schools International (Caps-I), during which representatives from 23 Canadian school boards met selected agents in Ankara and Istanbul.
“Caps-I’s mission to Turkey, the organisation’s first exploratory mission to an emerging market, has already proven a success,” said Caps-I Executive Director, Bonnie McKie. “All participants connected with promising agent partners in both Istanbul and Ankara. Some school districts report having already signed formal agreements with agents and one has already received news that a student application awaits,” she added.
Barbara Onstad from Vancouver School Board, BC, said. “The mission is a great opportunity for us to educate ourselves on the market potential and a great opportunity for Turkish agents to educate themselves on what Canadian public schools have to offer.”
London Met able to enrol overseas students
London Metropolitan University is once again permitted to recruit non-EU students, following an announcement by the UK Home Office.
With immediate effect, non-EU students can enter the university, and all existing students will be allowed to complete their studies.
A Home Office statement said, “In line with Home Office policy, the university will now be subject to a probationary period in order to build a track record of compliance with the new students they enrol.” The statement also confirmed that there would be a limit placed on the number of non-EU students that LMU could enrol, although the exact number was not specified.
As previously reported (see STM, October 2012, page 8), LMU’s Highly Trusted Sponsor license to recruit non-EU students on Tier 4 visas was revoked last year, after investigations discovered some students without valid visas and unsatisfactory attendance records.
Mark Harper, Immigration Minister, said, Home Office inspection teams had worked with the university “to ensure they have appropriate processes for recruiting and monitoring their international students”.
Mandarin House opens new Shanghai school
Chinese language provider Mandarin House has opened a new school in Shanghai, its second centre in the city and fourth worldwide, adding to Beijing and London campuses.
The new school, located in the Shenggao International Building in the Hongqiao district of Shanghai, contains 12 classrooms with a maximum capacity of 100 students. A range of courses will be offered including intensive, part-time, comprehensive, conversational, private tutoring, HSK test preparation, business and Chinese characters.
Jasmine Bian, CEO of Mandarin House, said the school was opening in response to strong demand for high-quality language instruction. “In a city with more than 200,000 expats, there is a large market for Chinese learning and very few schools can provide the quality that is expected.” She added, “As Shanghai is much more dispersed than Hong Kong or Singapore, it is important to have locations where people work and live,” she added.
Describing the new location, Bian said, “Hongqiao is a very popular area for foreigners to live as it is near many international companies and schools. It also contains Hongqiao International Airport, the high-speed train system and soon will have a stunning real estate development from superstar architect Zaha Hadid.
“Shanghai is expected to be a top destination for living, working and learning Chinese for many years to come,” she added.
Study Group partners with Strathclyde Uni
Global education provider Study Group has partnered with the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK, to establish a new International Study Centre (ISC), due to welcome its first students in September.
The ISC will prepare overseas students for entry into undergraduate and postgraduate study at the university with a range of pathway programmes, and is expected to accept 300 students each year by 2016.
The University of Strathclyde is one of Scotland’s largest universities and currently welcomes around 1,900 international students per year. Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal, said, “We already successfully recruit more than a thousand international students every year. Our partnership with Study Group will help us to increase the intake of high-quality students and allow us to further improve the international experience of our home and overseas students.” He added, “As a leading international technological institution, and UK University of the Year, Strathclyde is an increasingly attractive destination for international students who want to give themselves the best start to their career.”
James Pitman, Study Group Managing Director, Higher Education UK and Europe, said, “We’re proud to be bringing Study Group’s knowledge and experience of recruiting the best and brightest students to the University of Strathclyde.”
Fedele reports 2012 growth
A report on 2012 trends by Spanish language school association Fedele revealed an increase to 160,250 student weeks, compared with 136,100 in the previous year. Growth was recorded by each of the six area associations that comprise Fedele.
Just under half of the 88 member schools reported an increase in business, with 32 per cent noting stable trends. Members were asked to provide their top five nationalities, and Germany remained the most frequently cited – by 94 per cent. The UK (70), Italy (52), the USA (52) and France (46) completed an unchanged top five. By this measure, Russia was the most increased market. Ana Cózar, Director of Fedele, welcomed the results, citing schools’ marketing efforts and investment in professional development of centres as keys to the increase. She added that Spain was seeing growth of third language study from Russian and Chinese students.
International conferences achieve record numbers
Recent international education conferences by Eaquals and the International Association of Language Centres (Ialc) attracted delegates in record numbers.
A total of 227 language school professionals attended the Eaquals Conference in Dublin, Ireland, for a conference, entitled “Effective Language School Management”. The event was not member exclusive, with 76 non-members in attendance – part of the association’s drive to engage new schools. In total, 112 delegates were first-time attendees.
The Irish Minister of Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, opened the event and said, “Everyone in this room is aware of the positive impact the ELT sector has on the Irish economy.” He also praised the role the association plays in raising the bar on quality standards.
The busy conference schedule comprised five plenaries and 25 workshops and presentations covering areas such as management, digital marketing, corporate social responsibility and teaching methodology.
“Eaquals succeeded in bringing together academic and business marketing professionals to a fantastic conference across brands. The unique blend provided the fertile ground for new ways to improve the effectiveness and quality of language school services,” commented Bob Burger, Marketing Director at Malaca Instituto in Spain. The next Eaquals conference will be held in Belgrade, Serbia, on April 24-26.
Meanwhile, the Ialc Lisbon 2013 workshop marked the association’s 30th anniversary. In total, 139 agencies and 13 exhibitors attended the workshop hosted by Portuguese language school CIAL - Centro de Linguas. Half of the agent delegates had not attended an Ialc workshop for the last three years and 29 per cent were first-time attendees. Thirty-two different student markets were represented by agents.
Seminar topics included the benefits of market research and effective social media marketing, and for the first time agency and school senior managers attended the seminars together, providing a chance to share ideas and views on the industry.
Feedback from schools, agents and exhibitors was positive. James Upton of Nelson English Centre in New Zealand, said, “We were impressed with the quality of agents and found they came well prepared.” The 2014 Ialc workshop destination Langports English Language College in Brisbane was officially presented during the workshop.