Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. What do you think the biggest challenges will be in 2011?
Maartje Ruijgt, Yes Placement, Malaysia
“The way to go in 2010 was to find your way in that high-tech gossip world and make sure that you got positive feedback! The educator that is able to maintain good, open communication and choose quality over quantity is the educator I prefer to work with. To catch my eye and ear, an educator should be creative and original, but choose quality and care! At Yes Placement, Kuala Lumpur, we are training exclusive Yes au pairs to prepare them for their year in the Netherlands, but this year we are expanding our business due to the huge undeveloped market in Malaysia. Nowadays, the youth is more in the cyber world than ever. Asking a youngster to get rid of their cell phone or computer, is asking them to give up their life. Paperwork, like flyers, is completely out; they choose their programme and school online. The social networking sites make it easy to create an opinion without even seeing or talking directly to an agent or educator. It’s a very fragile world.”
Máximo Sepúlveda Ramos, Inturjoven, Spain
“The marketing initiatives we found more effective are the organisation of fam trips, attending international events educational workshops and fairs and the organisation of public launches in collaboration with public institutions in different target destinations. Regarding the secret of a successful marketing campaign, there are three basic points: offering a good product; being honest avoiding unrealistic expectations for your clients; and establishing a good business partnership based on a flexible product that may be adapted to different target clients and markets. In this sense, marketing in the educational industry over the last few years has been focused in showing a flexible offering that may adapt a product to the needs of different target clients.”
Mirian T. Rodrigues, Intercambio Connexion, Brazil
“The profile of students who look for an exchange programme has been changing a lot. Nowadays, people are more concerned about the quality of the teachers, the structure of the schools, the methodology, the accommodation and the accreditations awarded to the schools. Reasonable price is also another sensible aspect to be taken into account since cost-benefit is always the key factor of a decision. First of all, the promotional campaign must be aligned with the strategy of the school. Moreover, it must be addressed to the right audience, where economic status, age, country, objectives and educational background should be well known through continuous market research. Therefore, the schools must be very careful when defining the courses, the methodology and the prices, in order to be in line with the reality of that specific strategy and public. Also, the speed of communication is another aspect to be taken into account. The quicker the information reaches the students the more effective the results will be. The social networking channels are precious tools to share and exchange experiences which are of utmost importance to strengthening the credibility of any product. According to my experience, word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to promote a product and, of course, it may have a positive or negative impact, depending on how it has been delivered. This is the reason why agencies and the schools must work together and guarantee the expectations of their clients. Summing it up, it is not necessary to spend much money on a promotional campaign. Creativity, customer-oriented work and a solid strategy will be enough to achieve success.”
On the move
Nichole Paris has joined Rennert International in the USA as the new Director of International Admissions and Student Services. After living in France for several years as an ESL instructor and agent for ESFA Sejours Linguistiques, she returned to the USA as Managing Director for its New York branch. Her role at Rennert will be to oversee student recruitment efforts and agent partner relations for the New York, central Miami and South Beach locations.
Based in Hong Kong, Helen McClure joins Cambridge Education Group as Market Development Manager, responsible for Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. “I am extremely excited to be joining a fast growing and student centred organisation at what is a challenging time for international student recruitment worldwide,” she said.
Graham Colloby has joined the Kingswood Group in the UK as the new International Business Development Manager. With 10 years in the language education market, Mr Colloby brings a wealth of experience, such as providing recognised English examination courses to some of Italy’s best universities.
After a one year sabbatical, Tim Eckenfels has returned to the industry to join International House Sydney in Australia as its new Managing Director, working alongside owners Julie Styles and Leonie Greenwood to grow the English language college and Teacher Training Centre. During Mr Eckenfels’s 20 year history in the language travel industry, he has worked with Aspect, IH Sydney in Manly, Study Group and Ability Education.
ICEF is pleased to announce the appointment of Sara Azad as Marketing Executive, based out of the ICEF head office in Bonn, Germany Before joining ICEF, Ms Azad developed her career in the digital advertising industry as Media Account Manager, working at ninemsn in Australia and Yahoo Europe Ltd.
Cambridge Esol rolls out new placement test
Cambridge Esol has developed a new placement test that is being promoted to members of English UK but available to any organisation. Henry Tolley, Regional Development Manager for Cambridge Esol, said that the in-depth test rolled out in January “will help to ensure students are placed on the right courses and sit the right exams. As a result, classrooms will be comprised of students of similar abilities which will help teachers pitch classroom activities at the appropriate level.”
English UK Deputy Chief Executive, Mark Rendell, said, “Our members will be excited at the prospect of introducing the Cambridge English Placement Test in their language centres. The test has been created by one of the world’s leading assessment bodies and will provide a reliable and valid way to help our members further raise the standards of teaching English.”
Meanwhile, a new course, delivered chiefly online, has also been adapted by Cambridge Esol in collaboration with Cambridge University Press which is called the Cambridge B1 Course Online. The course is aimed at students keen to meet the B1 language level requirement that is currently required to meet Student Visa requirements in the UK although this may well change and be revised to B2, depending on the outcome of the public consultation in the UK.
The course comprises a mix of 75 hours online self-study and 25 hours face-to-face teaching. Cambridge Esol’s Sharon Harvey explained, “As the Common European Framework becomes more widely used in a range of industries, language schools need adequate training solutions to offer ambitions students.” She added that the course “is an excellent preparation tool for exams such as Cambridge English: Preliminary, an intermediate qualification in English recognised by thousands of organisations.”
Internship provider channels gap year market
OWING TO an increase in demand for entry level placements for students on their gap year prior to entering university, Professional Pathways Australia (PPA) is now offering internships to high school leavers coming to Australia on a gap year.
The Gap Year Internship Programme is designed to give high school leavers practical work experience in an international setting, adding value to a CV or future college application. “The programme is available to students who are eligible for the Working Holiday or Work & Holiday visa, and will be offered in both Sydney and Melbourne,” confirmed Rick Jones at the organisation.
Flexible, custom made packages, ranging from four- to 12-week placements, are available with assignments in fields such as business, marketing, events management, human resources, travel & tourism, sport & fitness, hospitality and not-for profit.
Orientation sessions will also be held on a weekly basis to help international students settle into their new surroundings, providing them with the necessary information required during their stay.
Competitive insurance for international students
International Services Inc a financial services company providing price comparisons on a range of insurance products throughout the USA has announced a range of insurance products designed especially for international students wishing to study in the USA.
Packages include both long- and short-term options (for as little as five days coverage) with the site (www.zinternationalstudent.com) claiming its competitive quotes will rival healthcare packages offered by universities.
Strict laws stipulate that international students must have comprehensive insurance to protect them should they need medical assistance or treatment during their time in the USA.
Texthelp launches language software
Texthelp Systems, an assistive technology specialist, has launched new ESL software, designed to help improve students’ English language skills.
The Read&Write ESL software is compatible with common computer applications such as Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer and includes a number of easy-to-use features including a speech button, a talking dictionary, a word prediction tool, a spell-check facility and a sounds-like function key, enabling users to verify similar sounding words or homophones such as ‘there’ and ‘their’. Both latter tools provide dictionary definitions and sample sentences to help build context.
“Students of today require English language skills of a high standard in order to contend in a highly competitive international workplace,” said Mark McCuster, CEO of Texthelp Systems. “We are excited to be launching Read&Write ESL to help students in secondary schools, English language schools, colleges and universities to become more confident and proficient in their use of the English language”.
Obituary - Aleda Stevens
Aleda Stevens, Admissions Director at Brandon College in San Francisco, CA, sadly passed away in September 2010 after a long battle with cancer. Born in San Francisco in 1932, she welcomed thousands of students from all over the world to Brandon College during her nearly 60 years service. “Her tireless commitment and loyalty to the school and co-workers serves as an inspiration to all of us. She has successfully guided the school during an incredible six decades from Professional Secretarial School in the 50s to the state-of-the-art language school it is today,” said school Director, Res Helfer.
Executive Director, Gonzalo Peralta, reports that Languages Canada had an extremely productive year in 2010, making its presence felt at various industry events and leading the way on the advocacy front.
Full name: Languages Canada/Langues Canada
Year established: March 2008
Number of members: 149
Type of members: French and English language schools from the public, private and non-profit sector
Association’s main role: Quality Assurance, Marketing, Advocacy, Professional Development
Membership criteria: Arm’s length accreditation received
Government recognition: Recognised by federal government as the national association of language programmes, recognised by British Columbia members EQA eligible
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: Annual fam trips organised around the ICEF Canada workshop
What has your association been up to in the last 12 months?
In 2010 we gained nine new members and we now stand at 149 member programmes. To the delight of French programme members, in September we contracted a new representative in Montreal to support their advocacy and marketing efforts. We had a successful event at Alphe UK, with a reception hosted at the Canadian High Commission and participation at GAELA. A number of members were nominated for an LTM Star Award and two won top honours. Additionally, we participated at ICEF Toronto, Berlin, São Paulo, and Miami. Languages Canada launched its first ever fam tour, taking select agency representatives to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, Peterborough, and Vancouver. We also organised our first international trade mission, visiting agents and officials in Munich and Berlin. On the advocacy front we were active with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Heritage Canada, and provincial and territorial ministries of education. Partnering with four other national education associations, we founded the Canadian Consortium for International Education Marketing (CCIEM) in order to have the whole sector speak with one voice.
What can members expect from your 2011 annual conference?
Our 2011 conference in Montréal (February 28 and March 1) promises to be our best yet, with top national and international experts presenting. Representatives from the Canadian federal and provincial governments will provide updates on new initiatives, both in marketing international education and substantial changes to immigration policy that will impact our sector. Workshops on pathways, the Imagine brand, marketing, levels and testing, working with agencies, change management, and quality assurance will be offered. In short, we expect the only complaint to be that there is too much choice.
Please explain your recent partnership with Orion Assessment Services.
Following a national competition, Orion Assessment Services was selected to provide full accreditation services, creating the arm’s length position that is essential to truly protect students and educational agencies. Orion has already begun its work and awarded the first accreditation last November. This step is not only important to members, students, and agencies, but also to the Canadian government as they seek to ensure that the sector is regulated.
• Virgin Atlantic has announced a code share agreement with Air New Zealand, opening up new routes and services to passengers looking to travel between the UK and New Zealand. Passengers will be able to book flights with Virgin Atlantic on Air New Zealand routes and vice versa. Rob Fyfe, Chief Executive Officer of Air New Zealand, said, “This new code share agreement provides yet further connectivity options for our customers as well as providing important connectivity for Virgin Atlantic customers to New Zealand and also the Cook Islands.”
• National flag carrier, Turkish Airlines, is quickly becoming one of Europe’s fastest growing airlines. The carrier will add 11 new destinations to its growing network of services, including thrice-weekly flights to Guangzhou in China, four-times-weekly flights to Los Angeles and four-times-weekly services to Shiraz in Iran. Future flights to Malaga and Valencia in Spain, Salonika in Greece, Toulouse in France, Manila in the Philippines and Naples, Turin and Genoa in Italy have also been earmarked.
• The third-phase of construction at Incheon International Airport in Seoul appears to be underway. In a bid to meet rising passenger demand, the South Korean government said it intends to invest KRW1.8 trillion won (US$1.62 billion) in the penultimate stage of development, which will run from 2011 to 2015, and will include the construction of a second terminal building. It is hoped that the expansion project will help establish the airport as a primary Northeast Asian hub. Elsewhere, a new US$11 billion airport in the Gulf state of Qatar has been touted. The project forms part of a construction drive for the 2022 Fifa World Cup.
• Low cost Spanish airline, Vueling, is set to open its second base outside of Spain. The new hub, at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, will help the carrier increase its flight schedule at the Dutch capital’s main international airport by 35 per cent, with an estimated 636,000 seats up for grabs this summer alone. “We have carried nearly two million passengers and the creation of this new international base demonstrates the commitment we have to the Netherlands and the Dutch people,” said Vueling’s CEO, Alex Cruz.
• Passengers of Virgin Atlantic have proved themselves an indefatigable lot when trying to secure a complimentary upgrade. A recent survey of over 3,000 cabin crew and ground staff revealed that passengers commonly claimed to be a “close friend” of Virgin CEO, Sir Richard Branson. Other lines included, “Sir Richard Branson promised me an upgrade”, “We are on honeymoon”, “It’s my birthday” and “I am very tall and really need some more space”. Some of the more creative tales included, “I have lost all my money in Vegas but really need an upgrade” and “Manchester United [football team] lost today, I am really upset and need the space to get over it”.
• Having already established joint ventures in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, Air Asia is set to break into the Philippine air travel market by launching subsidiary airline, Air Asia Philippines in August. Air Asia group CEO, Tony Fernandes, said, “We do expect it to be profitable right away. Many of the routes that Air Asia Philippines will be going to are already being exploited by other Air Asia companies so the set up cost for Air Asia Philippines is very low. So we can hit the ground running very fast.” Offering competitive rates, the new carrier is set to compete with local budget carrier, Cebu Pacific, and national airline Philippine Airlines.
• With plans to build 13,000 km of high-speed railway by 2012, some Chinese airlines are concerned they will not be able to compete on costs or efficiency. However, according to Civil Aviation Administration, Li Jiaxiang, the ever-expanding rail network poses little threat. “Railways and airlines are competitors, but they are also compliment each other,” he said, noting that rail services to major transport hubs had already risen.
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