Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Have you ever experienced a situation where a language school closes down? How do schools protect their students in such cases?
Carmen Salvans, ILCO, Spain
“I have never experienced this problem, I am sure that this is because I have been working with ‘my schools’ from the beginning, 22 years ago. I never looked for the cheaper option, I don’t believe in the ‘low cost courses’ if the client asks for quality. The first thing is to work with very good schools, recognised by the British Council or other organisations of quality. I am sure that if some of the schools we work with would have problems they would tell us in advance.”
Claudio Tyszler, Canada-Brasil, Brazil
“I have never experienced this situation. If it ever happens to me, I would immediately look after the student, making sure that he/she would be immediately placed in a different school, which they would have the right to choose. I would offer maximum hour schedule in a way to compensate the student and would send the money to the different school right away so that he/she would be studying without worrying about any bureaucratic issue. Meanwhile, I would try through different means to get a refund from the school that closed. My suggestion is that governments create mechanisms of control without imposing bureaucratic rules that could make both schools’ and agents’ work more difficult. I also think that the government must control homestays. I would organize this in a way that the government would deal with associations, not with schools directly. This is the only way to avoid bureaucracy.”
Carlos Robles, IEP Brazil, Brazil
“IEP Brazil has never had a situation of a closing school where students recruited were studying. Being part of Belta in Brazil, we would count on their support to help us to resolve such a problem. In a situation like that, I believe Belta could mediate with other schools on behalf of all the agencies that would have suffered with the hypothetical closing of that school and have some similar school to accept at least the students that are abroad and suffering with insecurity and the stress of having seen the doors of their school closed. I would suggest that in this negotiation, the school that took the students and helped us (being the same type of quality school presumably) would have priority in future indication of our students, because they showed respect for the agency, client and resolved a stressful situation with understanding and care.”
Colin Furness, ALP Addestramento Linguistico Professionale, Italy
“I’m glad to say that I have never used a school that has closed down due to insolvency. Closures by [quality] schools are rare (about seven in the past 12 years according to English UK figures for its members) but they do still happen and I think the safety net provided in most countries is poor. In the UK, the industry could do more to protect students. As I understand it, schools don’t have formal agreements for handling the fallout from a bankruptcy, but English UK has a Student Emergency Support Fund to provide emergency assistance to students affected by the closure of a member school, covering such things as the accommodation fees paid by students, or help with the cost of travelling to an alternative course. Membership also binds schools to sharing responsibility for providing alternative courses where possible, at no additional cost to the students. I think that the industry in each country should insist on some sort of insurance cover for all students.”
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, French in Normandy in Rouen nominates IAE in Korea. Eleri Maitland at the school explains this decision.
“I have known Mark Lucas a long time which helps as it’s vital that agents and schools have a relationship that is based on trust. Even so, I was really impressed when I went to IAE Korea and saw their superb systems. All their counsellors are really well briefed about the institutions that IAE works with, which means that IAE students come well informed, happy to have made their choice and looking forward to study. For me, IAE is a totally reliable, professional and well organised agency and perhaps the only one which is truly global. Sometimes we forget just how important it is for the people on the ground in both agency and institutions to have a thorough understanding of each other’s procedures and capabilities. I very much appreciate the time and effort that they have made in building a working partnership with us, the welcome I get when I go to Korea and the fact they have visited my school twice with a third visit planned. I use the word partnership because that is what I have with IAE, not just in Korea but throughout the network.”
On the move
Chief Executive of EC Group, Andrew Mangion, has been elected the new President of Feltom in Malta. Mr Mangion has been Managing Director of EC since 1997 and a Board Member and Vice President of Feltom from 2001 2005. He said, “I am looking forward to working closely with the Executive Board and the entire Feltom membership to continue to build on the successes achieved during the past year.”
Jean Daruvala has joined Malvern House as Academic Director, and will be overseeing the development and performance of all academic staff for the three centres. Ms Daruvala brings experience to this new position from her previous roles as the Academic Director and Head of Teacher Training in other London schools.
Cathal Maye has joined Dublin City University Language Services, Ireland as Chief Executive. With a background in business development and management, Mr Maye brings a wealth of experience to the DCU-LS team. He will be leading the company in the expansion of their business portfolio: ELT, Translations, Interpreting and Language Assessments. Mr Maye said he is “enjoying the challenge of working in such a dynamic industry”.
Rosie Gerrard-Wright (left) has been promoted from Director of Studies to Principal of Tti School of English in London, UK. She has been with Tti since 2004 and relishes the opportunities on offer in her new role. Teacher, Catherine Dimmock Benko (middle) has taken up a new role as Assistant Director of Studies at the school. And Renata Paes Battaglia (right) who started at Tti as a student, has been promoted to the position of Registrar.
Study Group welcomes Robin Halley as its new UK Sales and Marketing Director. From 2005, Mr Halley headed marketing and sales for Kaplan International Colleges as it launched partnerships with leading UK universities. Before that he was international director for universities including Manchester, Queen Mary and Queen’s University Belfast. Mr Halley joins Study Group at its new purpose-built Study Centre in Brighton.
As in many English language destinations, the debate concerning accreditation for language schools in the USA has been raging recently. Kate O’Connor, UCIEP President, tells us more about this issue in the USA.
Full name: Consortium of University and College Intensive English Programs
Year established: 1967
Number of members: 65
Type of members: Intensive English language providers at colleges and universities in the USA
Association’s main role: political advocacy, professional development and joint marketing
Government recognition: yes
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: no
Applied English Center
University of Kansas
1410 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 204
Lawrence, KS 66045-7515
Phone: +1 785 864 4606
Fax: +1 785 864 5050
What has your association been up to in the last 12 months?
We just held our annual director’s meeting in February and we’ve been very busy advocating for the Coleman Action Bill in Washington DC requiring the accreditation of IEPs in the US. Currently we are preparing a workshop on marketing principles and practices for Nafsa in May.
What is UCIEP’s stance on accreditation for US language schools?
Many people think English language programmes must be accredited to issue I-20 forms, but current US law does not require intensive language programme accreditation. UCIEP together with AAIEP and other professional organisations sees this as a serious loophole jeopardizing both the quality of international language education and national security. UCIEP recognises that without a law requiring accreditation, the standards and practices of language schools vary widely and may not offer the quality language education that international students deserve. Therefore, we support the Coleman amendment (currently in congress) that calls for [compulsory accreditation].
What main challenges are your members currently facing?
A high visa denial rate in certain countries is still a concern for many programmes. Individual members determine how best to recruit and market their own programmes, and we are always looking for effective formulas to judge return on investment.
What marketing activities are you planning for the near future?
Many individual programmes advertise extensively on the web and in print and UCIEP markets as an organisation at Nafsa.
New English language test from Pearson
Pearson, the UK-based international education and information company, has launched the second pilot phase of its new computer based test of English. The second phase will see the test being administered to over 5,000 non-English speaking candidates in the UK, the USA, Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
AmEx launches gap year insurance
The test, which is administered in collaboration with the Graduate Management Admission Council, will be launched globally in 2009 and is aimed at prospective college and university students. Pearson said that the test would accurately measure the language abilities of potential higher education candidates than anything that was currently available.
Over 6,000 students took part in the first pilot programme conducted last year. Mark Anderson, President of Pearson Language Tests, said, “I am delighted with the success of our first pilot programme. The participant feedback was extremely positive. The test has given us comprehensive information and feedback about our item types and their ability to more accurately measure the listening, speaking, reading and writing ability of candidates in an accurate academic environment”.
American Express has launched a new insurance product directly targeted at gap year students. The policy can be extended for two years and allows students to return to their home country for up to 14 days during their overseas trip.
Joanne Field from American Express Insurance Services said that over the last five years, gap year insurance has been one of the fastest growing insurance products.
The insurance cover will include money for legal advice and expenses, accident cover, flight delays etc. and lost or stolen luggage.
CIEE offers insurance product free to clients
The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), which says it is the leading US non-governmental international education organisation, will offer an iNext travel card free of charge to all its programme participants from now on.
Available for purchase to other travellers, the iNext Travel Card is an insurance product offering a 24-hour hotline for medical or travel concerns and coverage in the event of accident, sickness, hospital stay, lost baggage or documentation.
Some students’ landlords face licence fee in Canada
Landlords renting out rooms to students in Oshawa, ONT, Canada, will be required to pay CAN$250 (US$253) per bedroom as an annual licensing fee after Oshawa city council passed a new by-law earlier this year. Landlords will also be restricted to renting out just four bedrooms per house, regardless of property size.
Only properties in the immediate surroundings of Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology will be affected by the new requirements, which has led to claims of student discrimination. The by-law was introduced as a direct response to conflicts between students and locals that culminated in police raids on student housing.
If property standards regarding noise or repairs, for example, are not met, landlords can now be fined or lose their licence. Oshawa Mayor, John Gray, said, “Licences ensure that inspections can occur immediately and allows us to circumvent the whole court issue [previous control process]. Under the licensing regime, we can get [landlords] back in compliance much more quickly simply through sending them a letter. We’ve set a precedence with imposing licences on homeowners and other municipalities are coming to us for advice”.
This year’s Eltons awards ceremony in London, UK, was a glitzy affair and celebrated all that is innovative in the UK English language training industry. There were four lucky winners this year, pictured above. Top left: David Crystal entertains the guests. Below left, nominees from Cactus Language Training; Below right: Jane Dancaster from Wimbledon School of English (right) with a life-size Elton, along with Sue Bromby and Sue Edwards, Joint Chairs of English UK.
The recent Shane Global London relaunch featured food from the school’s new café menu while staff were on hand to tell agents about their new courses. A raffle was held, and among the lucky winners was Editor, Amy Baker, who won two tickets to see Bruce Springsteen! She is pictured here with Lisa Fitzgerald, Director of the school.
Snow added to the drama of the first Languages Canada conference in Ottawa this year. By night (top left) the city was beautiful; by day, hats were called for (Keith Segal and Clark Hortsing of Student Guard, bottom left). Also pictured, above middle, Linda Auzins of Capls and Scott Jeary of English Bay College in Vancouver. Above right: Daniel Lavoie of Université du Québec à Trois Rivières (left) with fellow Francophone, Didier Bergeret of University of Victoria French programmes.
South American language travel agency, Expanish, has opened a school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, using its expertise gained placing students elsewhere in the continent. Pictured left, Agustin Vignale, Co-Director of Expanish (centre) at the opening ceremony in March and right, the Expanish team.
• The Singapore government plans to build a fourth terminal at Changi Airport in a bid to meet passenger demand and help strengthen Changi’s position as a leading air hub. Lim Hwee Hua, Minister of State for Finance and Transport, told parliament, “To continue to ensure that we have sufficient capacity to accommodate growth in the aviation market, the master-planning for Terminal Four has started.” A third terminal was opened in January 2008 and is reputed to have handled 232,000 passengers in its first week alone. Meanwhile, a USD$10 million upgrade of the budget terminal also looks set to commence in July as well as a proposed USD$500 million makeover of terminal one.
• Ontario Tourism and Tourism Toronto have joined forces by launching a media campaign to lure more UK visitors to the Canadian province. The UK is one of Ontario’s biggest overseas markets, with an estimated 420,000 visitors per annum. David Whitaker, President of Tourism Toronto said, “Toronto is showing its resilience as a global destination. In a year when the forecasts started out rather dire, in the end more visitors came, hotel occupancy rose and our convention business continued to be a bedrock for today and the future.”
• The International Airport Association (Iata) has signalled a slowdown in aviation traffic. Passenger demand grew by just 4.3 per cent in January, compared with 6.7 per cent in December 2007. Traffic dipped significantly for European carriers, growing by just 0.3 per cent compared with 5.5 per cent in December last year. Intra-European traffic, however, remained stable. Meanwhile, US carriers recorded a five per cent growth in international passenger numbers, down slightly from the six per cent recorded in December. Giovanni Bisignani, Iata’s Director General said, “January traffic results show that we could be at a turning point. There is likely to be turbulence ahead.”
• VisitScotland plans to increase tourism revenues by as much as 50 per cent by 2015. Early forecasts suggest visitor numbers will increase greatly over the next 20 years and the Scottish tourism industry is preparing itself for the onset. However, sustainable tourism is a priority and as part of its enviromental policy, VisitScotland plans to establish Scotland as the world’s first “carbon neutral” destination. Professor Ian Yeoman, Scotland’s Scenario Planning Manager, said, “While this will mean increased wealth for Scotland, it is crucial that this is achieved in a way in which does not harm Scotland’s environment the very thing that attracts many of our visitors.” VisitScotland has already launched several marketing campaigns aimed at attracting visitors to the country during the quieter shoulder months.
• Spanish low-cost carrier, Clickair, has commenced a daily service between London Gatwick and Bilbao in the Basque country. The no-frills airline has taken over from Iberia and is offering one-way fares from UK£32 (USD$65). Alex Cruz, Chief Executive of Clickair, said: “We are very pleased to be adding another popular cultural destination to our network from Gatwick.” The airline already operates daily flights between Gatwick and Seville, Heathrow and Valencia, Heathrow and La Coruna and also offers a thrice-weekly flight from Edinburgh to Barcelona.
• A men-centric website in the UK canvassed its members as to the most worthwhile sights among the 851 World Heritage sites. Askmen.com revealed the top ten must-sees according to its readers were; Stonehenge in the UK; Chichen Itza in Mexico; the Old City of Jerusalem in Israel; Rapu Nui on the Polynesian Easter Island; Vatican City in Italy; the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt; St. Petersburg in Russia; Everglades National Park in the USA; the Alhambra in Granada, Spain; and Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral in France.
• According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Thailand was a popular destination choice among Australian tourists in 2007, with 375,000 choosing to journey there; a 30 per cent increase on the 2006 results. Meanwhile, the number of Australians visiting Japan grew by just 0.3 per cent and the reciprocal number of Japanese tourists visiting Australia dipped slightly.