The type of language learning programmes favoured by students changes and evolves over time, as agents working in the industry can testify. Students' discernment can be down to major trends in global mobility and international opportunity. For example, as studying overseas becomes more commonplace, and even de rigeur in some countries, high school preparation programmes gain in popularity.
Likewise, as working overseas becomes a more common trend and an option that is easier to research and undertake, work experience programmes - whether offering paid or unpaid employment - become increasingly requested by agency clients. Second language ability among certain nationalities is also on the rise, which is a testament to the advancement of curriculum standards around the world, and cultural exchange opportunities without a language learning requirement are becoming popular.
This point is highlighted in our Special Report this issue about work experience programmes. While many language schools offer language tuition courses with a work placement element, agents already active in this field testify that a large proportion of clients request a work placement only - already confident in their linguistic ability. Agents and schools see a good opportunity for expanding business in this sector, as most schools offer work placements after a minimum language course, while work experience organisers offering placement services only are also experiencing growing demand for their services.
Just as types of courses become in vogue, so are destinations. Australia seems to be very popular with Chinese students at the moment, judging by the latest results of our Australia Status survey, which indicates that Chinese students are now in the majority across Australia's classrooms. And according to our Brazilian Agency Survey, the USA's popularity with Brazilian students continues to wane, as the UK gains favour and more bookings to Australia and New Zealand are forecast.
Asian destinations have been courting the international student market for some years, and according to the Director General of the British Council, Malaysia and Singapore are now deemed to represent a potential threat to the prosperity of the UK's international student market, as does Australia and the USA. His comments were made in relation to a new report that estimates the current worth of UK education exports.
One positive in the UK's favour is the accession of 10 new members to the European Union (EU), which took place on 1 May. Language schools in the EU are agreed that the expansion of the union should lead to a gradual increase in student enrolments, as economic conditions in the accession countries improve and language learning becomes more important.
Language schools in Germany report that business is currently doing well because of the appeal, and low cost, of studying in the country's higher education system. Schools there should also reap the benefits of the expanded EU. Ireland is another country that should benefit. It seems to be a favourite among agents, with a number of readers speaking highly of the Irish study experience.
In terms of programme delivery, we also uncover a growing trend towards home tuition programmes in this issue, as more and more students are seeing the benefits of this intensive type of study, according to providers working in the field.