|The total number of students placed by the nine agencies in our survey was 1,125
Individual agencies placed between three and 750 students on courses per year
Average business growth was 11.6 per cent in the last 12 months
The average length of stay for Swiss students was seven weeks
Overall, 85 per cent of Swiss students preferred host family accommodation when studying overseas
A higher proportion of agency clients were studying abroad for current work purposes, namely 46 per cent
Language learning is the most lucrative sector of the study abroad market for Swiss agents
|Most popular course requests
||Average percentage of agency business by sector
|1. Intensive 56%
2. Business 19%
3. Academic/exam prep 10%
4. General 8%
5. Summer vacation 5%
6. Junior 1%
7. Language plus work experience 1%
||1. Language learning 96%
2. Work and travel 1%
3. Secondary education 1%
4. Internships 1%
5. Higher education 1%
|Reasons for studying overseas
|1. Current work 46%
2. Future work 26%
3. Further studies at home 11%
4. Pleasure 4%
5. Other 13%
||1. UK 43%
2. France 13%
3. USA 10%
4. Australia 9%
5. Germany 9%
6. Spain 3.5%
7. Italy 3.5%
8. Canada 3%
9. Ireland 1%
|How do agents recruit students?
||How do agencies find new schools to represent?
|1. Word-of-mouth 58.5%
2. Website 24%
3. Mail shots 5%
4. Advertising in press 4.5%
5. E/online marketing 1%
||1. B2B conferences
2. Internet 22%
3. Language fairs and student expos 6%
4. STM 1%
5. Other press 1%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
English Australia 78%
Languages Canada 67%
Groupement FLE 56%
Italian in Italy 22%
Eng NZ 67%
British Council 100%
English UK 89%
World Organisation 89%
Quality English 78%
The past 12 months have dealt out mixed fortunes for Swiss agents, according to this year’s survey on outbound trends, although the feedback is positive overall. More than half of agent participants recorded good growth in student numbers (one giving figures as high as 30 per cent), three reported that business has remained stagnant and one declined to give growth figures. But with only four out of the 11 participants reporting growth in our previous survey and two recording negative growth (see STM, February 2012, pages 20-21), it seems that the market is starting to bounce back from last year’s slump. Average business growth was at 11.6 per cent in this survey, a dramatic increase over last year’s 1.8 per cent.
Language and destination trends
In terms of language preferences, clients have not really changed their habits since last year’s survey. English programmes still accounted for the lion’s share of requests (72 per cent), while Switzerland’s national languages of French (11 per cent), German (nine per cent) and Italian (five per cent) saw a fair share of interest from Swiss students too. Destination wise, the UK was the most popular with 43 per cent of market share, and France (13 per cent) in second place. However, this result is skewed as only one agency sent clients to this country.
Student and course trends
The popularity of intensive language courses has grown considerably, accounting for 56 per cent of requests compared with last year’s result of 35 per cent. Business language programmes were the second most requested course type with a 19 per cent share of the market (again, this result was skewed by one agency’s data). The top reason Swiss students studied abroad over the past 12 months was for current work purposes (46 per cent), while the most common reason in the last survey was for future work purposes (33 per cent). Studying for pleasure was down 15 percentage points this year, perhaps indicating a growing sense of competitiveness in Switzerland’s job market.
Swiss agents are increasingly using less traditional techniques of attracting school partners, with 30 per cent utilising “other” methods. One participant said that they find 90 per cent of business partners through visiting various schools, while another said they forge 50 per cent of new partnerships through personal recommendations. B2B conferences are still a popular way to gain school clients (40 per cent), with one agent citing this as the reason for all new partnerships over the past 12 months, and in terms of attracting student clients, word-of-mouth is a method of increasing effectiveness, accounting for 58.5 per cent of requests compared with 50 per cent previously.
Participants were notably more optimistic in regards to future business, with most predicting that bookings would be steady or show a modest increase. Some participants cited growth strategies such as targeting smaller schools and doing more to reach students.
• The Swiss economy experienced export-fuelled growth during Q4 2011, defying the strength of the Swiss franc. GDP grew by 0.1 per cent, going against predictions that the economy would shrink because of the Eurozone debt crisis. Overall, the Swiss economy grew by 2.6 per cent in 2011, surpassing the growth of its European neighbours.
• Concerns about the high strength of the Swiss franc continued in 2012, with Switzerland ranking 57th out of 59 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2011-2012. Another perceived threat was that the country is highly dependent on Europe, its main trading partner, and is vulnerable to falling demand from the continent.
• The average annualised inflation rate in 2012 was -0.7 per cent. The Swiss consumer price index calculated by the Federal Statistical Office registered a decline of 0.2 per cent in December 2012.
Sources: BBC News; swissinfo.ch; Federal Statistical Office
Swiss agents named a range of programmes they work with, including in Australia: Byron Bay English Language School, Bryon Bay, NSW; Langports, Brisbane and Gold Coast, QLD; Language Links, Perth, WA; Sydney English Language Centre (SELC), Sydney, NSW. In Canada: Red Leaf, Toronto, ON. In Germany: Dialog Sprachenschule, Lindau; GLS, Berlin; Humboldt-Institut, Konstanz; Kapito, Munster. In the UK: International House, various; New School of English, Cambridge; Regent English Language Training, Brighton, Cambridge, London and Oxford; The English Language Centre, Brighton and Bristol. International: In Spain: Estudio Internacional Sampere; Language Studies International (LSI).
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in this survey: Agence Babel; Aventure Linguistique; Biku Languages AG; globo-study Sprachreisen; Interlangues; Lingua Solutions R. Aeschbacher; LinguaService; Link Study Bellinzona; Marshall Language Studies.