Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. How does the cost of living overseas impact on your clients’ choice of a study destination?
Miguel Angel López, General Manager, Studentvisa, Ecuador
“We started our business in Colombia in 1992 and I came to Ecuador in 2000. At the beginning our main product was language courses for adults but people now want to work while they study so we have been offering new products such as Work and Travel, Au Pair, Internships and trainee placements. The level of English in this country is really good so the university programmes have increased as well. The government, through the Instituto Ecuatoriano de Crédito Educativo y Becas (IECE), is giving up to US$8,000 to improve any language abroad, that has been a really good thing for the students and for us. The schools we work with help us more than they did five years ago. Some of the schools are changing to offer programmes according to the new idea of working while you study etc.”
Boelo van der Pool, Director, Babel Idiomas, Spain
“Our business has grown over the past five years. We have made a change towards adult students as we get fewer junior bookings each year. I believe the more mature student in Spain has realised that they too can study a language abroad. Our clients have become more demanding as to the quality of courses and, above all, the accommodation. Less people ask for homestays and more ask for shared apartments or residences. We always spend a long time helping them choose the right accommodation. They really care about the quality they will be getting and want a good deal. I believe schools have changed, as they offer greater varieties of accommodation every year and, in general, quality of accommodation is rising. I think that the market in Spain will keep on growing, and not just because of the government grants [available since last year].”
Gabriella Perfetti, Auriga Servizi, Italy
“For years we have offered short language programmes for adults and occasionally we receive requests for summer vacations for teens with an Italian group leader. But recently people in their 20s have shown a strong interest in long-term stays, combining a course with a paid job, above all in English-speaking countries; however our clients are aware of the uncertainty of finding a suitable job when abroad so they [may] apply for an intensive course combined with a cultural or business programme in the hope they improve their CV. In addition, demand for exam preparation courses among students is increasing due to the importance of getting an international certificate, but those students sit the exam when back in Italy. What the market is requesting now is courses related to a certain career, not only in business or teaching a language to foreigners.”
Tatyana Khromchenko, President, Takt & Partners, Russia
“We have been offering work experience, language plus programmes and academic programmes since 1994. Nowadays, more students are looking for work experience and also language and internship programmes. Demand has grown. The requirements for many jobs [in Russia] are knowing English or other languages. My clients are more particular now. They want to know everything about the programme in detail and they want to find programmes with scholarships and also they require me to take care of them from the moment of application to my company till they return home. Of course, we take care of their visas, air tickets, insurance and safety. The language schools I work with offer a very good service and they try their best to help my students in different situations.”
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, School District #68 (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) in British Columbia, Canada nominates Central de Intercambio (CI) in Brazil. Marilyn Whitehead explains this decision.
“CI Central de Intercambio, based in Sao Paulo but with a network of offices spread throughout Brazil, is our top agent worldwide. They send many students each year to our public high school programme, and, perhaps more importantly, they send well-screened and well-prepared students. CI staff are knowledgeable about our programme; several staff members have visited us in Nanaimo, and CI head office facilitates our visits to various offices in Brazil for staff training. Their knowledge of what they are selling, and our confidence that they are selling exactly what we deliver, are very important points high school students and their parents don’t like surprises and neither do we. Then, throughout the period of each student’s semester or academic year, CI staff support us 100 per cent in our efforts to take over the ‘raising’ of these teenagers. They are excellent cultural interpreters for natural parents, and they execute their role as go-between for us and parents with expediency, honesty, and accuracy.”
On the move
Wimbledon School of English in the UK has a new Marketing Assistant, Claire Jeffreys, who is a graduate of Griffith University, Australia. She has valuable experience in the English language industry, having spent a year as an assistant language teacher in Japan.
Eisuke Suzuki has joined the marketing team at Frances King School of English in London, UK, as Marketing Manager for Japan. He brings experience of language and university study in London and of the media in Tokyo to his work. He will be responsible for the promotion of the school in Japan and agent and customer care.
Eurobridge International in Spain has appointed a new language consultant to the team. Pablo Garcia de Sola Moyano has a Masters degree in teaching Spanish as a foreign language, he has taught for several years in Japan and at Suffolk University’s Madrid campus in Spain.
Peter and Tosca Nathan are the new directors of Sea English Academy (SEA) in Gold Coast, Australia. Ms Nathan spent many years in the television and the magazine industries before settling into her new career as a mum and teacher. Meanwhile, with his many years of experience in business and administration, Mr Nathan ably runs the business side of Gold Coast SEA.
There have been some staff changes at Tellus Group in Plymouth, UK. Ania Wieczorek (left) is the new Country Coordinator for the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Portugal and Spain and Stephanie Despas Masse (centre) is Country Coordinator for Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Working with the Greek and Cypriot markets is Jason Gaeos, a student with Tellus. Meanwhile, Neil Pick (right) is now Managing Director.
LAL is pleased to announce a restructuring of its schools and agency divisions. Alex Perkins is now Director of LAL Schools with responsibility for coordinating operations in the UK, the USA, Malta and South Africa. From January, LAL Schools’ headquarters has been based at its large year-round school in Torbay, UK.
Gerry La Belle, President of Capls, answers our questions about new association Languages Canada, which joins members of Capls and CLC together for the first time.
Full name: Languages Canada\Langues Canada
Year established: March 2008
Number of members: 180 accredited programmes expected
Type of members: Public, private, French, English and seasonal language institutions
Association’s main role: To promote quality, accredited English and French language training in Canada, both nationally and internationally.
Membership criteria: Various criteria but all must pass Languages Canada Accreditation, formerly CLC’s Accreditation Scheme
Government recognition: Yes
Code of practice: Yes
Complaints procedure: Yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: Planning will commence in March 2008
Chairperson, Sharon Curl,
How has the process of merging Canada Language Council (CLC) and Canadian Association of Private Language Schools (Capls) to form Languages Canada been?
Over the past six years, support and encouragement from various organisations, government departments, the co-presidents, the directors of our boards, and our members have helped to keep the vision of one language training association for Canada alive. All involved have volunteered thousands of hours of their own time and government has provided financial assistance to make this dream a reality. It has been an amazing experience!
Where will the head office of Languages Canada be and what are the association’s aims for this year?
Head Office will be located in Ottawa plus there are additional offices still to be decided.
Please recap for our readers why was it decided that CLC and Capls should merge and work as one?
The associations’ commitment to quality programming and services has driven this initiative and the current strengths of each association have moved us to a point where we could make this a reality. We decided not to merge but to create a new association, to be one united voice internationally as the symbol of excellence.
What are your hopes for the language training industry in Canada for 2008 and beyond?
We hope that the consolidation of public, private, French and English will help the industry to grow, provide greater international recognition of the quality of our member schools; and with one coordinated accreditation scheme, Canada will rise to a higher level of international awareness.
Availability of Cambridge exams widens
Cambridge Esol is to provide English language certification for secondary school students in France and throughout Catalonia in Spain.
The French Ministry of Education has chosen Cambridge Esol to develop the English language exams, which will be equivalent to the Cambridge Preliminary English Test (PET). The exams will be taken in the final year of obligatory schooling and will be voluntary. The French government expects that 8,000 pupils will sit the test when it becomes available from March this year, growing to around 55,000 after three years.
Michael Milanovic, Chief Executive of the University of Cambridge Esol Examinations, said, “We are delighted to have been selected to work with the Ministry of Education. Cambridge Esol supports the increasing trend towards the mutual use and recognition of language certifications by partner European countries.”
In Spain, Fundacio Escola Cristiana has signed an agreement with Cambridge Esol to provide access to the Cambridge suite of exams to students at its network of 434 schools in Catalonia.
New hotel concept hits London
A new hotel in London, UK, is aiming to revolutionise the hotel industry by offering services that would not normally be expected in three-star hotel accommodation.
The Umi hotel, in the Bayswater area of London, offers double rooms for clients at UK£30 (US$59) a night and provides services such as its own coffee shop serving fair trade coffees and teas, a cocktail bar sponsored by Absolut Vodka, wi-fi and plasma screen TVs in all rooms and a massage therapy service.
Steve Lowy, Umi’s founder, said, “While travelling the world, I experienced cultures whose nature it was to deliver a welcoming atmosphere and service unparalleled to anything in the UK, yet at a fraction of the price. We decided that although this warmth and desire to please are values all hotels should possess, it was hard to find an affordable hotel brand that could deliver all these qualities consistently.”
Working alongside branding agency, Youth Conspiracy Ltd, the process had “young people at the heart of the development”.
Umi Hotel was previously known as the Westminster Hotel.
Award and expansion plans for InterGlobal
InterGlobal Insurance, a travel and healthcare insurance provider based in the UK, has won the very first Health Insurer of the Year Award, organised by Private Healthcare News, the international healthcare journal based in the UK.
The awards ceremony and gala dinner was held during the International Private Healthcare Conference in November in Venice, Italy. Stephen Hartigan, Group CEO of InterGlobal, said, “I am extremely proud of the hard work that the InterGlobal team put into winning [the award]. This award is of particular significance as the nominations came directly from Private Healthcare News readers.”
The company is planning an ambitious international expansion programme in 2008 and announced a new senior management team at the end of last year. Barbara Zito, Les Carter and Barry Remington have been appointed Executive Directors of the group and all come from a background in financial services and insurance management. A further six non-executive directors have also been appointed to key roles within the company.
A wild time was had by all at the Beta Christmas lunch which was held at London Zoo in December last year. Chairman, Dick Porter (pictured, left of table), kicked off proceedings and, as well as life-size gorillas mingling with guests, skunks were on hand for guests who wanted to get up close and personal with these surprisingly cute furry friends.
International House (IH) has announced that its next workshop will take place in Dublin, Ireland. Pictured here is Larry Finnegan from IH Dublin (left) who will be hosting the next workshop and Paul McMullan from IH Belfast, one of the new schools that recently joined the IH global network. It will be the organisation’s 14th workshop designed to foster closer contacts between the IH study abroad schools and the agent community. IH Belfast will organise a fam trip after the event in May.
Kim Edwards of the Sea English Academy International in Queensland, Australia, scooped a prestigious prize for “Business person of the year” in the Sunshine Coast Excellence in Business Awards last year. Pictured here with the Mayor of Caloundra City who was the sponsor of the award, Kim was up against 14 other finalists in her category and had more than 20 judges assessing her business acumen and interviewing her. Well done Kim!
Doing business in Asia a selection of shots from the recent Alphe Japan and Alphe Korea workshops.
• British Airways (BA) has announced plans to expand upon its South American operations. The carrier currently flies to Rio de Janiero from London Heathrow via Sao Paulo but from October this year the airline will launch a direct daily service to the Brazilian city, shaving two hours off of the original flight time. The carrier is also looking to upgrade its four-times-weekly service to Buenos Aires in Argentina to a daily service in order to meet growing demand from passengers. Robert Boyle, BA Commercial Director, said, “South America is a growing market for us as demand for business and leisure travel increases,” adding, “Non-stop fligths mean more available seats on the route and faster flight times.”
• Following a new government directive, the UK Department of Transport is to ease baggage restrictions at 22 UK airports including Heathrow, Glasgow and Manchester. However, the one-bag rule will still apply to some UK airports including Gatwick and Luton because security systems have been deemed less sufficient. Meanwhile, some operators, including budget carrier easyJet, have decided to keep the one-bag rule, adding to passenger confusion. In a recent statement made by the Department of Transport a spokesperson said, “Before departing we strongly suggest you check with your airline on the cabin baggage arrangements for your particular journey.” Meanwhile, restrictions on carrying liquids still apply.
• A new scheme set up by the European Union (EU) that will restrict airlines as to the amount of carbon emissions they produce, has been postponed until 2012. In a bid to reduce their carbon footprint, the scheme allows airlines to buy “carbon credits” from renewable-energy schemes or emission reduction schemes. UK Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, said, “By including aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme, we are ensuring that airlines which do go above their limit will need to cancel out their emissions elsewhere.” The aviation sector’s carbon emissions are reported to be growing by four to five per cent per year and the delayed move will affect flights between EU countries and flights taking off and landing within the EU. But some experts predict passengers could end footing the bill.
• The Port Authority of New York hopes to attract UK-based budget airlines to an airport 60 miles north of the city. Acquired by the authorities back in November 2007, Stewart International Airport currently operates regional domestic flights. The move will offer passengers an alternative route into the USA and it is hoped delays at JFK International will be lessened somewhat. Colin Smith, the port authority’s Regional Director for Europe, said, “We have had discussions with operators this side of the Atlantic suggesting that this is not a bad model for them.”
• An open skies agreement between the USA and Australia is being mooted. Formal talks between the two countries concerning the trans-Pacific route could see other carriers like Virgin Blue and V Australia given the green light to commence services. As yet, only United Airlines, with 14 flights a week, and Qantas Airways, with 48 flights per week, operate flights between the two nations.
• According to US adventure travel website, www.iExplore.com, the top world travel destinations for American tourists for 2007 included Egypt, South Africa, China and for the more daring, Antarctica. iExplore boss, George Deeb, said, “We continue to see heavy demand for the man-made and natural wonders of the world.”