Satisfying student expectation is the core concern for all operators involved in the study abroad industry, and keeping up with student demand and what students want is the mark of success among language schools and agents.
For this reason, education providers in all countries are keen to promote their quality assurance brands internationally. Australia has gone one step further in developing a global brand image that is designed to sum up the quality, innovation and fun opportunities offered by education providers in the country (page 4). In this respect, Australia is following the UK and New Zealand in trying to establish an accepted international brand representing high quality education opportunities.
Australia is faring well in the international marketplace anyway, as recent student statistics reveal (page 33). Schools suggest that the growth in the market is because of Australia's competitive exchange rate and its reputation as a safe destination.
Agents in Argentina reveal dismal market performance there, and they point out that competitive deals and special offers are real incentives in a market which has slowed dramatically. While the UK remains the preferred destination for students, Australia is the second-most popular destination, and South Africa is becoming increasingly attractive to Argentinean students (pages 12-13).
Competition is as tense as ever in the international marketplace, and individual schools are trying to stay ahead of the pack by offering computer-based lessons in some cases as part of the language school package (page 17). Many agents report that students do not request state-of-the-art lessons involving computers, but the schools leading the way in this field are keen to stress that such techniques are expected by some, and the trend is likely to grow.
In the summer programmes market, providers are also aiming to appeal to students, and agents, by maintaining high levels of quality despite the pressure of the peak period and offering a wider range of activities, for example, or courses that appeal to the pre-university clientele. Pressure to maintain quality levels during this season is higher than ever, as schools acknowledge (pages 24-28).
Agents also have to work hardest during the summer season to make sure that any client problems are solved, as for many, a majority of their clients are overseas during this period. One agent reports that some partner schools are reluctant to resolve any problems, despite assurances from the agent to clients that problems can be dealt with swiftly (page 10).
Agents are mindful of student demand and keen to hear about new courses and products. Many acknowledge the value of home tuition programmes as a small but important niche market, and one Italian agent points to an increase in the range of clients that are likely to benefit from such specialised language tuition. As student requirements become more specific, it is likely that agents can earn more from this market, which offers substantial benefits for the serious language learner (page 19).
In the UK, association ABLS claims the high value of the pound has not impacted on business for member schools, as students and agents are 'more interested in value for money' (page 37). Agencies must offer a wide range of good value, high quality products, to enable students to be able to make a considered decision about which school best caters for their needs.