IDP Education Australia is attempting to resolve its cash-flow issues, as reported in the February issue of Language Travel Magazine, by refocusing its operations in the Asia region only. In an about-turn from its previous policy of diversification, which was adopted after the Asian economic crash in 1997, IDP wants to maintain ''brand equity and market strength in core countries'', according to Chief Executive, Lindy Hyam.
IDP Chairperson, Lance Twomey, said the shift in strategy was essential in order to respond to the market changes of the past 12 months, which have resulted in an AUS$10 million (US$7.6 million) deficit in income expected from international student fees. ''When any company is undergoing difficulties, it is essential to return to core business,'' said Twomey. ''For IDP, that is student recruitment in our Asian markets. This is also the region where our forecasting reveals solid future demand.''
Hyam added that India and Vietnam in particular looked set to be strong student markets, according to recent data. Offices will close in the UK, Sweden, Brunei, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, which together recruit just six per cent of IDP's clients. The US office closed last year.
The market conditions that have led to IDP's problems are a downturn in student application fee income and a lower-than-expected Ielts result in 2004, said Twomey. IDP is a shareholder in the Ielts testing system, along with Cambridge Esol and the British Council. A drop in interest in higher education opportunities in Australia has been evident, as the rising cost of the Australian dollar and alternative study options in Asia have presented themselves.
IDP is owned by Australia's universities and, although a not-for-profit operation, has received criticism in the past from agents for its close alliance with AEI (government) operations in certain countries. Twomey explained that the shareholders had pledged to provide increased funds to support IDP in 2005, as testament to their support of Australia's largest student recruiting organisation. ''To ensure that IDP was able to continue to trade satisfactorily, the board resolved to approach all vice-chancellors and as a result between AUS$6 million (US$4.5 million) and AUS$7 million (US$5.3 million) has been pledged into the company in the new year,'' reported Twomey.
Pascal Carré, an agent who runs licensed offices for IDP in France and Belgium, told Language Travel Magazine that he lamented the decision to close all IDP-owned offices in Europe and America, leaving his offices and two in Germany and the Netherlands. ''It is a huge loss in terms of marketing power and balance of nationalities of recruited students, which will have consequences in the future,'' he said. ''The UK and Brazil, in particular, were growing markets.'' But he added that IDP would remain a strong brand.
Bonnie Cothren of the Intensive English Language Institute at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, said she was disappointed with IDP's decision. ''An organisation such as IDP is actually needed to help open up new markets for the country as a whole,'' she said. ''Recruiting in Asia is relatively easy for institutions.''
CEC Network report success
CEC Network has reported that educator delegates at its annual Agent Fair, which was held in Montreal, Canada, in November, found that the education agents who attended last year's event were better briefed than in previous years.
Amy Mullins at CEC Network reported, ''[Educators] felt the agents came to the meeting more prepared and more focused in their questions. In fact, 87 per cent of [educators] rated the quality of the agents as excellent or very good, compared with 67 per cent the previous year. We feel the briefing session is in large part responsible for this improvement.''
For the first time, agents attended a preliminary briefing session which provided information about the Canadian education system and immigration issues, and the CEC Network, prior to attending meetings with education institutions. Around 200 delegates from institutions across the country convened for the CEC Network annual conference and agent fair.
Mullins said of the event, ''We plan to build on the success of this [briefing] session in future years so that we can provide agents with valuable skills and information and our [educator] clients with high quality agents.''
Antonio Bacelar Junior of Via Mundo Intercâmbio Turismo in Brazil was one of the agents who attended last year's event. ''The location was fantastic, and the meeting very well organised,'' he said. ''There was a wide range of educational institutions from all over Canada, as well as agents from various parts of the world.'' Agent, Claudia González Pacheco from Asociación Venezolano Americana de Amistad (AVAA) in Venezuela, also gave her opinion of the fair. ''Montreal was a great city to visit. Visitors could [imagine] having Christmas in Canada and share this feeling with students,'' she said.
American Link in Spain
American Link, an agency in Spain, went into liquidation at the end of last year, leaving unpaid debts. Another agency in Barcelona, British Summer Ltd, has taken over the lease of its premises, and use of its brand name, but does not inherit any legal liabilities.
Ignacio Mas de Xaxàs Faus, Director of British Summer, spoke to Language Travel Magazine to clarify the situation. He explained, ''The only agreement [we] have reached is the transfer of the lease on the premises, along with the exclusive use of [the company's] brand name for a fixed number of years and its portfolio of clients. We would therefore like to point out that British Summer is not responsible for any action taken by American Link in the past or any action that it may take during the liquidation process.''
British Summer has been a member of Spanish agency association, Aseproce, since 1991 and in operation since 1982.
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. After English, which will be the next language to learn, in your opinion?
''It would be easy to answer Chinese but it is indeed still too early. I confess I haven't had any requests for this language yet. As far as I can see, in Italy I have noticed a rise in demand for Spanish, which is very surprising because the Italian and Spanish languages seem to us so similar that Italians tended to think that by staying a few weeks in Spain they would learn enough of the language to get by... This new trend though could be a strong signal that the needs are more specific and that people are considering studying Spanish more seriously. I do not foresee having two foreign languages as quintessential: English is still the dominating language and will be for a while.''
Lisa Feval, Happy Tour, Italy
''There is a phenomenon that more and more people are studying more than one foreign language in our country. But I sincerely believe that English is still dominating client preference for the following reasons. First, it is the first language in some large and developed countries. These countries want to cooperate with developing countries. Wherever their people go, they bring English with them and influence people there. Second, it seems that almost every one in the world is dreaming of studying, working, and living in these countries, especially in the USA, which means that students must master English. Most Chinese are learning English as their second language. Finally, these [English-speaking] countries have attracted a lot of overseas students in the past decade. With more and more overseas students choosing to go back to their home country, English is widely spread. However, more and more people will master another language besides English. People want to make friends all over the world. Some people marry people from different countries. In order to live and work more easily and happily, more and more people want to master another language. Therefore, I believe it will one day be a common phenomenon that most people will have mastered two languages.''
Nancy Feng, EduShanghai International Co., Ltd, China
''Dependent upon world trade and population [growth], Spanish and Chinese are the languages that are on the rise. More and more people try to learn these languages for business-related reasons. Considering the situation in Turkey, English will continue to be the most popular and dominant language for many more years, especially because most people still do not know English well enough to use it easily in their jobs. However, there is a growing demand for German and Italian here as there are lots of German and Italian companies operating in Turkey. New graduates ask for short term courses and are eager to spend three-to-four months studying a second language before they start a career.''
Ayda A Akkoc, Yero International Education, Turkey
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, Hampstead School of English in the UK nominates Steps agency in Italy.
Kevin McNally, Marketing Director at the school, explains this decision:
''Hampstead School of English has been working with Steps for nearly seven years. Not only are they extremely efficient and proactive in promoting the school in southern Italy, but they also approach their work with passion, dedication and a tremendous amount of human spirit. Even though they deal with thousands of students every year, I am always amazed at how much care and attention to detail they pay to every single one. They always know the students' background and preferences and constantly monitor students' progress and well-being. I think the way they work is very close to the way we operate here at Hampstead. It's always a real pleasure to be able to contact Steps with a question or query about a student and get an instant and personalised response.
I think Steps are operating in a sometimes difficult and very competitive market, and it is testimony to their professional and dynamic approach that they are so successful and continue to grow and develop.''
On the move
Study Group is delighted to announce the latest appointment of two new regional sales directors in North Asia. Tor Nicol joined in October, bringing with him extensive educational sales and marketing experience. Mr Nicol will be looking after the key markets of Korea and Taiwan. John Crick (right), having worked for Study Group for the past seven years in a marketing and operational role, has been appointed to manage Study Group activity in Japan.
Ozdemir Icin of Atlas agency in Turkey has left the company after 15 years to start up his own independently operated agency, Network Educational Services. Based in the Taksim district of Istanbul, the agency will open other offices in the city this year, according to Mr Icin. ''At Network, we will keep providing students with reliable information on study abroad opportunities,'' he said.
There is new staff in the Fiyto headquarters in Denmark, representing Fiyto and its various sub-groups. Antonella Tonna (left) has been appointed Association Manager for the Global Work Experience Association (Gwea). She will also be responsible for matters of advocacy. Thomas Engsig-Karup (centre) has been appointed as Association Manager for the Association of Language Travel Organisations (Alto). Mr. Engsig-Karup has a background in market analysis, has studied overseas, and will also be responsible for research and industry intelligence at Alto. Helle Dräger (right) has been appointed in charge of Association Services Development at Fiyto. She joins Fiyto with an MSc in International Business and several years of marketing and communications experience.
Roberto Caldeira, formerly the Country Manager of EF Education Brazil, and Director of Corporate Planning in STB, has been hired by Experimento agency as the Sales Director. Mr Caldeira will be responsible for the marketing and sales of the company and supervise a chain of 13 branches around the country. His main challenge will be to expand the operations of Experimento and take it from the third to the second position in the industry in Brazil in a targeted period of three years.
The Canada Language Council (CLC) wants to encourage all educators to work together to put Canada in the spotlight. Jay Jamieson, Executive Director, answers our questions.
Full name: Canada Language Council / Conseil des Langues du Canada
Year established: 1979
Number of members: 106
Type of members: universities, colleges and private language schools
Association's main role: promotion of quality and standards in language training
Government recognition: yes
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: in planning
Contact details: email@example.com / www.c-l-c.ca
How is CLC developing since it welcomed private language schools into the association?
There is significant interest from both the private and public sectors in the expanded corporation and its enhanced mandate. The CLC is well on its way to creating a unique bilingual cross-sector language association for Canada. From January, the private sector representation in the CLC has been approximately 35 per cent.
In terms of accreditation, how are CLC standards evolving?
There have been no changes to the actual standards. However, some procedural changes have been made to the accreditation review process. The experience over the past two years showed that greater orientation and understanding about the entire process was needed to facilitate the review process. To this end, the Council has created a more comprehensive package to provide better orientation and understanding of all the steps and requirements in the review process.
What are CLC's long-term aims?
The broad objective of the CLC is to strengthen the reputation of Canada's language training industry by providing the same level of quality assurance that its major competitors provide.
Does the CLC have plans to work with agents?
This is currently under review by the CLC but plans being considered include attending agent workshops in order to promote the CLC brand.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing the Canadian language teaching industries in 2005?
The biggest challenge for 2005 is to move forward with what already exists and stop attempting to duplicate efforts. This only serves to fragment the industry. The various stakeholders in the Council have spent the past 25 years striving to set standards and promote excellence in language training in Canada and internationally.
Regent Language Training in the UK has donated a four-week English language course to a disadvantaged Taiwanese child, as part of an annual charity appeal organised by Kidzday, which raises money for disadvantaged and orphaned children in the country. Each year, the charity organises a Christmas event for children, and last Christmas, one child won the trip of a lifetime to the UK as part of a short essay competition. ''Kidzday is a fantastic initiative and we are delighted to support such a worthy cause,'' said Jonny Peters at Regent.
Congratulations to Bianca Bugane of STI Travels in Italy. She is pleased to announce that a long-standing client of hers, Max Menarini (pictured), has been accepted on to a research team at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) in the USA for a doctorate project, following on from his completion of an Overseas Placement Training (OPT) programme at the university. Bugane said, ''Max has attended language courses in the UK and in the USA several times since the age of 12, when he came to our office first. He is a great student and we are very proud of him.''
The Venezuelan agency association, ACEIV, is a female-only operation at present. Represented here are four of the five founding members of the association, formed last year. From left to right: Maricruz Rodriguez-Duque from Arca Programas Educativos (treasurer), Nori Salazar from Globorama Consultores Educativos (secretary), Renee Alvarez from Travel & Language Agents (vice-president) and Elba Pazos from Proyectos Educatours (founding member). President Teresita de Rojas, of Eduplace, was unable to attend the photo session.