The four key institutions ''showcased'' were Henley College Coventry, the University of Wolverhampton, Leeds Metropolitan University and Newcastle College. The mission aimed to highlight state sector English language learning and profile further study options available for students within the state sector.
Julie Hutchinson, Marketing and Communications Manager at Baselt, commented, ''Agents felt the whole experience was rewarding and informative and that they had seen language education in the UK in a fresh light.'' She added that agents were ''very impressed with [Baselt members'] facilities, flexible English plus courses, classrooms and the friendliness of staff''.
One agent participant was Michiyo Goto of ICS in Osaka. She told Language Travel Magazine that the trip had already led to a new approach when counselling clients. ''Since I returned to my office in Osaka, I have been introducing some of those institutions I visited and actually a couple of students have decided to enrol in their programmes,'' she said. ''The trip was very informative and a great opportunity for me to gain a better understanding of Baselt institutions and the UK educational system.''
The inward mission was one of a series that Baselt is organising for different agent markets. Hutchinson explained, ''Baselt's strategy is to offer members opportunities to diversify, and this is reflected in our inward mission programme, with [a range of agent markets] featured.'' The next scheduled inward mission is for Taiwanese agents in June.
AAEAC is born in Argentina
A new association has been established in Argentina for language travel agencies and education consultants. The Argentinean Association of Educational Agents and Consultants (AAEAC) held its inaugural meeeting in February this year, during which it outlined its plans for the future. The association was initially set up at a CEC Network Agent Fair in December last year with five founding members.
Jorge Taboada, a member of AAEAC's executive committee, said the meeting in February, attended by a further six agents, involved open discussion about the industry and the direction for the association. Key aims of the association include creating a fair business relationship between agencies and schools; promoting the image of the industry and lobbying government departments; observing quality standards; and establishing bonds with other agency associations by providing a forum for discussion.
''Agents will no longer be competitors if they achieve changes that will benefit the local industry as a whole,'' declared Taboada. One of his first challenges is to publicise AAEAC through local and international media. ''We expect to represent the whole country in our association,'' he said. ''The executive committee has two representatives from Buenos Aires and the three others represent different provinces. We want to preserve this federal criteria.''
The association hopes to have 30 national members within a year and act as a local and international reference point.
Aseproce aims for industry regulation
The Spanish agency association, Aseproce, unanimously re-elected its board of directors at its annual general meeting earlier this year, and aims to continue working towards regulation of the agency industry in Spain. The association has been working with the Ministry of Education and governments of autonomous regions to try and establish a national regulatory framework for agencies in Spain.
President of Aseproce, Juan Manuel Elizalde, said that the association hoped that its ongoing work towards developing the European norme, which is expected to be completed next year (see Language Travel Magazine, March 2001, page 15), might eventually serve as a guide to the Spanish authorities.
Other aims of Aseproce for this year include increasing its marketing efforts (with attendance at the main trade events in Spain), attracting new members and strengthening relationships with foreign embassies, thereby heightening awareness of the association and, in the case of Canada and the USA, working towards improving the visa issuing process for students.
Elizalde added, ''[We plan] to maintain an active involvement with the Federation of Education and Language Consultant Associations (Felca), as we feel that by making the federation stronger, it will benefit our own association, creating a better understanding with international agents and language schools.'' Aseproce is keen to establish an agreement with language schools about selling courses on the Internet.
Earlier this year, members of the association participated on a UK fam trip to meet nine London-based schools. ''The fam trip to London was very good as the city is one of the favourite destinations for adult clients,'' said Ana Maria Iglesias, Secretary General at the association. ''Fam trips are always useful for the opportunity of visiting schools personally.''
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q Is demand rising for exam preparation courses? Which language exams do you counsel your clients to take and why?
''Yes, demand is rising. Russians want to get proof of their proficiency in languages: Ielts and Toefl for English and DSH for German are the most popular ones and we encourage people to take them. The fact is that most of our potential clients want to take an exam when they are planning to enter a foreign university. In this case, they usually go abroad to take advantage of the opportunity to integrate into the education and language system. There are people who take the course and exam in Russia, but as the person still lives in the same environment, the effect is not as good as when going abroad.''
Valeriy Kizlov, Znaniye-Centre Study Group, Russia
''In Argentina, the demand for exam courses, beyond Toefl and Toeic, is not relevant. My company is focused on university students, professionals and corporations. [Clients] asking for language studies abroad are usually focused on specific areas such as business, law and management, more than exam courses. We strongly recommend a focus on Toefl for academic purposes and Toeic for job seekers. Corporations in Argentina have standardised Toeic as an employment requirement. We send language students to the USA and Canada specifically for Toefl and Toeic preparation. Other exam courses are required according to university and country requirements - Ielts is needed for many UK institutions. Thirty per cent of our students ask for language exams and this proportion is rising.''
Jorge Taboada, Universities & Schools of America, Argentina
''Singapore is an English speaking society, and our education system is based on the British system, with Cambridge GCSE and A level exams as the leaving exams [at schools]. So traditionally, our local students may require some assistance to prepare for these exams. However, as Singapore has developed itself as a regional education hub, it has attracted many Asian students. These international students, learning English as a foreign language, are either planning on further tertiary education in Singapore [or] a college education in Western countries. Both Singapore and overseas colleges and universities normally require them to demonstrate their English skills and the common examinations are Toefl and Ielts. Demand has been rising as Singapore attracts more and more international students.''
Dennis Tan, EF English First, Singapore
Face to face
Who are you?
Joachim Graff, Co-founder, Director of Marketing & Business Development.
Where do you work?
Treffpunkt Language Institute, Bamberg, Germany.
Why and how did you start in the industry?
After working for several years in business and attending language courses in other countries, we realised the [large] demand for German language courses and the opportunity for intercultural [advantage] in a German language school.
Why should agents choose to represent your school?
Our school especially caters for adult students, in small groups or on an individual level. We have had positive feedback from our students, and the success of our strategy gets passed on to our agents.
What challenges does your school face in the future?
We need to concentrate more on motivating individuals to learn German, and showing them the benefits of learning the language. This is especially important in targeting business professionals.
What percentage of your annual student intake comes through agents?
Currently 15 per cent, but we would like to increase this percentage with a focus on Italy, the UK, France, Japan, and the USA.
How do you believe your institution will develop in the future?
We hope to create a strong balance between online learning and classroom learning. Online learning will support students before and after their visit so that they get the most [out of] their stay in Germany.
On the move
Juan Carlos Izquierdo has taken over as a Managing Director of Alcalingua, the Spanish language centre at Alcala University. Mr Izquierdo plans to focus on promoting recognition of Alcalingua-University of Alcalá. His strategy is to work more closely with other organisations and educational bodies. ''This flexible approach, combined with the centre´s academic prestige, will allow Alcalingua to satisfy the training and other educational needs of students,'' he said.
Ana Arroyo, who has been Director of Studies for English at LSC Montréal since 1996, has taken on the additional position of Director of Studies for French, thereby joining the French and English departments. Ms Arroyo, who is bilingual, reflects the unique nature of LSC Montréal where both English and French can be learned equally.
Alessandro Vidoni is the new President of Asils, the Italian language schools' association. Mr Vidoni said, ''My efforts will be focused on the guarantees that Asils schools offer to their clients: teaching quality, qualified teachers, quality of accommodation and school premises adequate to national standards.''
Judy Zhu (left) joins the Shane Global Village (SGV) marketing team as the China Market Manager, based in Shanghai. Ms Zhu is responsible for lifting the brand presence of SGV in the competitive Chinese market. Reka Lenart (centre) is the new SGV Europe Marketing Officer, based in London. Ms Lenart's previous experience at Study Tours in Hungary will help her in her role to provide marketing support to SGV European agents. Vincent Bastick (right) has recently been appointed SGV South East Asia Marketing Manager, having worked in marketing for several years at SGV Sydney (Universal English College). Mr Bastick, who has many years experience in the education industry, will be promoting the SGV name throughout the region.