||ICEF Moscow sold out
Delegates at this year’s ICEF Japan and Moscow agent workshops were very satisfied with the events with 92 per cent of attendees at the Japan workshop rating the event to be either excellent or good. Overall, 154 delegates were in attendance in Japan, which was down on last year’s attendance. The organiser felt this was indicative of the state of the Japanese market currently.
Educators commended the cross-section of potential Japanese business partners they were presented with at the fair. “The workshop provided a relaxed and productive atmosphere for doing business. It was great to reconnect with our existing agents and meet new ones too,” related Angelika Volkman from the University of California Irvine Extension in the USA. There was also diverse representation in terms of business sectors present. An estimated 33 per cent of all delegates represented a university or vocational college, while 37 per cent represented the language school sector and 28 per cent made up secondary/boarding and high school providers.
Meanwhile, the ICEF Moscow Workshop experienced an increase in educator footfall. Representatives from 105 educational institutions attended the event at Moscow’s premier Ritz Carlton Hotel; a 24 per cent increase on the previous year. According to Shakhnoza Sharipova from BCC in Uzbekistan, the increase was welcome. “We had the opportunity to meet with our current partners and also establish relationships with different educators from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Spain, Germany and the USA.” Agents came from all parts of Russia and a further 11 countries in the region.
Alphe expands into Istanbul
Alphe agent conferences held an event in Istanbul in Turkey for the first time in April this year, which proved to be popular with attendees from all over the world.
In total, 79 schools and 108 agents from 95 agencies attended the three-day event held at the Barcelo Eresin Topkapi hotel in Istanbul, making it the biggest event for Alphe apart from its flagship UK event held in September each year. The workshop attracted agents from 14 different countries.
Zuzana Labudova from Prime Language school in Slovakia attended the first Alphe Istanbul and was glowing in her summary of it. “I loved the conference!” she said. “I had a chance to get to know a wide range of educators and my original intention to organise study stays for my language school students has changed into expanding my business and starting a new business activity.”
Michael Naylor from Colchester English School in the UK added, “[The conference was] excellently organised: appointments were just the right length, breaks were very well timed, the catering was excellent and the dinner very enjoyable.”
The fourth Alphe Latin American conference also took place earlier this year in São Paulo, Brazil, and was applauded for its relaxed and productive working environment.
The event welcomed a total of 76 educators from 11 different countries. “I liked the cosy atmosphere which allows us to do business in a more relaxed way, having the chance to approach schools during breaks, without any difficulties!” vouched Antonio Bacelar Junior from Via Mundo Intercambio Turismo in San Luis, Brazil. While Romulo Costa from Trek Viagens e Intercambio in Brazil reflected that there was “excellent integration between agents, staff and schools”.
Educators at the event were just as complementary with Brigitta Alkofer from the Humboldt Institut in Germany noting that “personal care and attention” from the organisers made a real difference to the conference experience for her. This was despite a marginal drop in the number of agents present at the conference in 2010, however 94 compared with 99 in 2009, said Jane Gilham, Alphe Manager.
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, Hove College in the UK nominates Access Study in Turkey. Ayfer Aydin, International Marketing Manager at the school, explains this decision.
“We would like to nominate Access Study in Turkey as our agency of the month as they have shown consistent and continued effort in promoting Hove College over the past few years. Despite being a relatively new agency, they have shown commitment, professionalism and excellence in their services. Access Study provides an exceptional personalised service ensuring students are well looked after before, during, and after the application and enrolment process. We find that their students arriving in the UK are well informed about our school and programmes. Access Study have committed staff who are friendly and helpful, organised and efficient. Ms Berna Kolca has already made the effort to visit our school more than once and hence has a good insight into what we offer and is therefore able to provide up-to-date information to her students. She also has an in-depth knowledge of the UK as a study destination and is able to advise her clients accordingly. It is a pleasure to have Access Study as a partner in Turkey and we thank them for their great support of our college.”
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Do you think the proposed visa changes in the UK will affect overall application numbers for foundation programmes/academic preparation courses?
Denis Mello, Intercambio & Turismo, Brazil
“The foundation programmes/academic preparation courses represent only 10 per cent of our sales and there probably won’t be any major changes since these students already have an advanced level of English. But in regards to English language courses, the new Tier 4 visa system will negatively affect the sales target for the UK. In fact, the requirement for high-intermediate level in English is unfounded. In Brazil, a student might take four years to reach a high-intermediate level and they will lose a lot of time. Some of them even have a good level of English but have no certificate to prove it. Some are already looking for more affordable destinations such as Australia and New Zealand. Probably sales in Australia, New Zealand and Canada will grow in the next few months.”
Raed Jebreen, AlAmoudi Holidays, Saudi Arabia
“I was shocked when I heard this decision from the British government, and wondered why have they announced such a big decision while they know that most people decide a language course when they are beginner or elementary level. I am completely against this decision and assure you it will affect our business, especially for students who are less than intermediate and would study on long-term programmes. So we suggest to them nowadays to try New Zealand they can get in there without a visa or Australia where the visa takes a few days or Canada which has started to be very popular among students and parents for the King Abdullah scholarship. It is a pity that the UK, which used to be the first important location for Saudi students, will start to be the third or the last one especially
Ziad Abotoyur, International Group for Educational Consultancy, Saudi Arabia
“With the Saudi market, the UKBA’s new system has improved visa processes. Our conversion rate of enrolled students has risen, as students now need to pay a deposit to get their visa (CAS), also the student knows that it’s not easy to change their school once they arrive in the UK. The UK destination is very popular in Saudi Arabia as the distance of travel and course duration are shorter than other countries. Still students can go for lower level of English courses with visitor student visas as from my experience they don’t consider it to be a big issue to come back to their country to extend their visa.”
Susan Fang, OxBridge Consulting Inc, Taiwan
“It is such a shame that the new visa regulation is adversely killing the English language industry. Although students from Taiwan and China are predominantly coming to the UK for long-term academic studies, the majority of them would need a substantial language preparation course even prior to the pre-sessional language courses offered at their destination university. What it means for students from Taiwan and China is that they would rather enrol in language lessons at home rather than in the UK to help them get to the level required by universities. Worse still, we are losing students to markets like Australia and the USA where visa regulations are loosening up. Once students arrive in another country and adapt, they are less likely to commit to their original plan of studying in the UK.”
On the move
Simon Baker is now Head of Sales and Marketing at Twin Group in the UK, having previously worked as a Market Manager at the company. He is excited about helping Twin continue to innovate and promoting the group’s wide portfolio of courses and products, in the UK and USA, to international agents around the world.
Joining Langports as Managing Director and Principal of their Brisbane school, Robin Simpson renews his working relationship with his long-term friend, Langports CEO, John France. Mr Simpson will focus on Langports two existing schools and on possible expansion and collaborating with the recently established Langports Foundation.
Language Studies Canada (LSC) is delighted to introduce Sanaz Amirpour, Sales and Marketing Manager. Ms Amirpour will be responsible for social media and emerging markets at LSC. She spent her formative high school years in a prestigious CyberARTS programme and holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Toronto. After graduating, Ms Amirpour ran for Toronto City Council (coming in 3rd), spent two years working for a cruise line and then obtained her IATA standing to work as a travel agent.
The Bell Educational Trust in the UK has appointed Greg Watson as its new Chief Executive, following the departure of David Pottinger earlier this year. Mr Watson joins Bell from Oxford Cambridge & RSA Examinations (OCR), which he has led as Chief Executive since 2004. Ellen Fleming, Chair of the Bell Educational Trust, commented, “We are delighted to welcome someone with such an impressive pedigree to lead the Trust into the next phase of its development.” Mr Watson will take up his new position in August 2010.
Mike Henniger has joined Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops, BC, Canada, as Associate Director of International Marketing. Mr Henniger’s last posting was as Marketing Director for KGIC Education Group based in Vancouver. He comments, “My desire to come to Thompson Rivers University came from the realisation that TRU had all the things that I would look for if I was a student. As a marketer this is very important for me. I hope to be able to contribute to the strong growth TRU has experienced over the past few years by creating systems and processes to better manage our marketing efforts.”
Virtual classrooms for Kaplan
Kaplan International Colleges (KIC) is putting comprehensive learning at the fingertips of prospective students by launching Kaplan International Live Online.
The new facility mirrors conventional face-to-face English courses offered by Kaplan schools with students interacting with teachers and fellow pupils via a live web interface.
A four-week pre-course suitable for all language levels and aimed at students prior to in-school course commencement is widely available with individuals meeting at pre-scheduled times to practise language skills from the comfort of their own homes and/or offices.
Course content may vary depending on language level but typical areas students can expect to cover include applicable classroom linguistics, polite phrases and key grammar. Live sessions will commence twice-a-week with an additional 12 hours of online study material, tailored to each specific individual, also on hand. A live online Ielts course has been touted for a later launch.
Kaplan’s unique online offensive has spilled over into the tertiary sector with Kaplan University now offering fully accredited online degrees. Wade Britt, Vice President International at the university, noted that they aimed to bring tertiary education to the individual with over 125 degree plans available to study. “Over 65,000 students study at Kaplan University, where they enjoy a highly supportive and personalised education that leads to an accredited US degree. Together with Kaplan International Colleges, students all over the world can improve their English through Live Online and go on to pursue a US degree with Kaplan University.”
UK university utilises online support service
An online learning environment, called the Macmillan English Campus, is set to revolutionise the way in which international students prepare for university in the UK.
Prospective students of the University of Lincoln in the UK will soon be able to develop their language skills prior to course commencement by studying a bespoke online curriculum devised by university staff.
The advanced software developed by Macmillan publishers includes various language learning resources including pronunciation and listening activities, interactive games and progress tests, as well as an online dictionary and an integrated messaging system.
Teaching staff at the university will also play an active role in the online language learning tool, by monitoring student progress and giving student feedback for work submitted via an online ‘markbook’.
As the first UK higher education institution to utilise this effective method of teaching, it aims to extend its reach to international students the world over said Mark Foster, a senior lecturer at the university’s language centre. “Working with our partner colleges, we can keep in touch with students, monitor their progress and devise a curriculum specifically for them. It means the Lincoln student experience will begin before students have even left their home town,” he said.
New business links for PTE
The language testing division of international media company, Pearson plc, is to collaborate with MyGlobalEducation.com part of online portal for higher education, the CollegeBound Network (CBN).
The partnership, which aims to support the growth of international education as a whole, will enable non-native English speakers that visit the MyGlobalEducation.com site, to access information about the PTE Academic test model and its global reach.
“To help students navigate the application process to academic institutions that require proof of English proficiency, MyGlobalEducation.com is a perfect fit with PTE Academic,” observed Bill Colvin, Director of International Recruitment at CBN. “Pearson helps strengthen our depth and breadth of student services, and PTE Academic adds a new level of innovation to English language testing that brings great benefits to both schools and students,” he added.
Elsewhere, the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) in Australia has introduced a new Pearson testing facility in response to a recent report conducted by The Australian Universities Quality Agency. The report recommended institutions ensure international students on exchange programmes possess the necessary language skills to carry out their studies in Australia. “...partners maintain that the students have met these sorts of requirements but they don’t necessarily have to produce the evidence that they have, so that’s I think the issue that was being raised by the report,” confirmed university spokesman, David Bull.
University campus thinks green
Committed to its pledge for on-campus green initiatives, Oregon State University (OSU) in the USA has vowed to build an environmentally friendly residence hall for the new wave of international students it expects to attract.
The 148,000 square foot structure will cater for some 350 international and domestic students, provide new classrooms, and contain offices for faculty and support services, not to mention a classroom auditorium equipped to handle 110 students.
Overseas recruitment at the university has rocketed since it joined forces with private sector organisation, Into University Partnerships. “This is part of the university’s plan to internationalise our campus and provide a diversity of global perspectives that will enrich the educational experience for all of our students,” affirmed Sabah Randhawa, OSU Provost and Executive Vice President.
It is hoped the new facility, which is set to exceed the state’s energy conservation guidelines, will incorporate sustainable features employed elsewhere on campus such as waterless urinals and light motion sensors, with additional rainwater reclamation facilities and high-efficiency heating.
The Association of British Language Schools (ABLS) has had a productive 12 months. Diana Lowe, at the organisation, identifies how they have been actively promoting their quality marque.
Full name: Association of British Language Schools
Year established: 1993
Number of members: 29
Type of members: Private English language schools
Association’s main role: To provide support for and promote member schools
Government recognition: Yes
Code of practice: Yes
Complaints procedure: Yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: Attendance at Alphe workshops, ICEF Berlin
PO Box 315,
Great Yarmouth NR30 9EN
What has your association been up to in the last 12 months?
In March 2009, our partners, The Accreditation Body for Language Services (ABLS Accreditation) were approved by the UKBA to accredit private providers wishing to apply for licenses under Tier 4 of the points-based system. Currently, although membership of ABLS is open to all schools with UKBA recognised accreditation, most of our members are accredited by our partners. We have held meetings, sometimes in conjunction with ABLS Accreditation, to inform members with regard to matters relating to new immigration requirements and have also prepared them for the vetting and barring scheme being introduced in July of this year. At our regional association meetings members have had the chance to meet socially to share experiences and best practice. Last October, we held our annual dinner in Cambridge followed by the AGM with speakers from the UKBA and Childsafe. ABLS ran a seminar at the ICEF Berlin workshop last November which was well received. Apart from attending stakeholders’ meetings, this year has already been active. We held a members’ workshop to discuss the ‘role of agents’ and Tier 4 recruitment and also attended the BETA workshop in London.
How have member schools been affected by the review of the student visa system? How involved have you been in lobbying against the proposed measures?
As one of the stakeholders we have presented the views and concerns of our members and attended meetings with the UKBA. It is still early days to assess the full impact of the revisions to the student visa system. For schools who have become sponsors the implementation of the sponsor management system is a huge challenge and demanding in terms of responsibility and resources. We are concerned that meeting the increased bureaucratic demands of these systems could challenge the viability of smaller organisations. There is also concern that issues relating to visa issuance may have damaged the reputation of the UK as a study destination and that given the extensive choice of English language courses available in other parts of the English-speaking world our UK based industry may be adversely affected.
What other tough challenges could member schools come up against in 2010?
Agents continue to be unaware with regard to choice in accreditation and there also appears to be some confusion with regard to sponsor licensing. In many cases Tier 4 rulings have been misunderstood. For example, it is not necessary for seasonal operators and those offering courses of six months or less to hold a sponsor license. We have become aware that some accredited schools that do not need to become sponsors feel compelled to do so for marketing purposes.
• In response to demand for travel in the region, Garuda Indonesia, the national airline carrier of Indonesia, is expanding its route network and introducing new aircraft to its expansive fleet. The new routes will target the South East Asia market, and include destinations such as Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Reinstating its non-stop service from Hong Kong to Bali and Surabaya, it will also offer morning flights from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta and increase the frequency of its Singapore to Jakarta route. “South East Asia is an important market and a key growth region for Garuda Indonesia,” asserted Iswandi Said, Senior General Manager Areas Asia, Europe & Middle East. It is the airlines’ intention to grow international departures by more than 300 per cent by 2014.
• Operating more than 375 flights per day to over 71 destinations, Indian carrier, Kingfisher Airlines has confirmed that a New Delhi to Hong Kong route is to become its second international destination. The service, which commenced in April this year, will operate six times a week. Dr Vijay Mallya, Chairman and CEO of the airline said, “Given the strong linkages between India and Hong Kong, we believe that there is untapped potential and these new routes promise to serve the unmet needs of discerning corporate and leisure flyers.” Three more international routes out of New Delhi have also been earmarked.
• European airlines could soon gain fresh access to lucrative transatlantic routes if the US government agrees to a new open skies deal. An agreement in 2007 paved the way for US and European airlines to fly between any European city and any US city. However, the secondary draft will strengthen these bonds even further by allowing EU companies to own bigger stakes in US airlines and vice versa. A spokesperson from Continental said, “[We Believe] close coordination and cooperation with the European Union on aviation matters is important to the US and international economies.” Meanwhile, the European Commission noted that this new “open aviation area” could generate an additional 80,000 new jobs.
• Head of the Air Transport Association (IATA), Giovanni Bisignani, has predicted the world’s airlines will post a combined profit in 2011. The industry, which has been depreciating since it experienced a revenue hike in 2008, stands to lose an estimated US$2.8 billion in the 2010 financial year. However, industry officials are confident the sector is on the road to recovery and will be “back in the black in 2011”. Early forecasts suggest the sector is up US$43 billion on 2009 figures already.
• In order to encourage students to use the nation’s carrier, Air New Zealand is offering a 10 per cent discount to those travelling to New Zealand for study purposes. The promotion, which ran until the end of April and targeted flights in or before September, may be extended if successful. In other news, Air New Zealand and Continental Airlines in the USA have launched a reciprocal code-share agreement. The arrangement will offer up alternative route options for leisure and business travellers with Air New Zealand code sharing on flights to and from Continental’s main hubs in Houston, New York and Cleveland as well as connecting services to and from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Auckland. Continental will have access to Air New Zealand’s trans-pacific and domestic services as well as its Auckland to Hong Kong leg.
• Despite protests from national carrier Vietnam Airlines, a new budget carrier under the auspices of VietJet Air and AirAsia has been unveiled in Vietnam. AirAsia CEO, Tony Fernandes, said the new carrier would be a “positive development for Vietnam tourism and the people of Vietnam”. He also insisted the new company would not be in direct competition with Vietnam Airlines, catering only for budget travellers. Meanwhile, AirAsia X is pushing for a route that will link Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Sydney, Australia. The Malaysian government is said to oppose the move. “One of the reasons cited was since Malaysian Airlines was asked to buy the A380 jets by the government, they need the Sydney route to be protected,” said AirAsia X CEO, Azran Osman-Rani.
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