Evolution of ideas
Time always marches on at the same pace, irrespective of economic woes or giddy, exciting opportunistic times. Schools in Italy might be wishing next year was here already, when some positivity may have already returned to their client base. Meanwhile, perhaps educators in New Zealand are relishing the moment because the latest reports are that enrolments are rising, in the tertiary sector at least.
Like time, business never stands still. Somebody, somewhere right now is thinking about positioning their business in a new way; forcing others in the industry to take notice. In the marketing domain, one example is celebrity endorsement of international education: we hear that one education company is using this tactic.
While this may be an advantage that only big money can buy, as the marketing of international education evolves, others must question their own efforts. Another strategy mentioned is enhancing reputation via social networking sites online. The advent of websites such as Facebook offer opportunities for schools to build a virtual community and encourage loyalty online. At the same time, the beauty of an online feelgood factor is that it ultimately is controlled by the clients; hence reliant upon the quality of teaching, services and accommodation provided.
As we underline in this issue, accommodation is an important area of expertise, and in the last few years, this sub-sector of our industry has really started to professionalise, with third party providers evolving that are dedicated to serving study abroad clients. As clients become more demanding, schools are having to consider carefully how they approach their area of their provision.
Even the delivery of language tuition is being reinvented. I find it astonishing that the Internet can now be harnessed for conversations, using Skype, for example. In one step further, two technology companies have teamed up to enable international dialogue to take place on mobile phones, using Internet technology, for the price of a local phone call. This may not replace learning a language in the country where it is spoken, but it certainly might become a popular way of practising skills on return home.
Congratulations too to the British Council for hosting its annual “ELTons” award ceremony for innovation in English language teaching, helping in some small way to sustain a culture of creativity.