||French agency AMSL has debts frozen
Autour du Monde Stages Linguistiques (AMSL), a French agency based in Miserey, France, has entered into Redressement Judiciaire [recovery proceedings] after failing to honour its debts meaning that its school partners have been forced to wait for any monies owed until the company becomes profitable again, if this is achieved.
French law stipulates that any company unable to meet its current liabilities out of current assets or to pay its debts when due must either 1) cease operation and enter into liquidation or 2) enter into Redressement Judiciaire. In the case of AMSL, the judge ruled in favour of the latter, and according to Laura Maroselli, Manager at the agency, a legal representative is now acting on behalf of and in the interests of all its creditors.
Essentially, all outstanding debts have now been frozen by the French authortities with AMSL still liable for payment within a two-to-five year timeframe. “AMSL is still due to pay these debts but obtains a moratorium, which will help breathe new life into the company and allow us to recover,” explained Maroselli.
Established in 1993, the company which works closely with the corporate sector, specialising in sourcing executive language courses overseas was unable to pay provider invoices last year after it experienced a 60 per cent drop in business.
Maroselli explained to Language Travel Magazine that unfavourable market conditions (most notably the economic downturn) led several blue chip organisations to postpone or cancel language courses already booked, leaving the agency in a cashflow situation whereby it was unable to pay outstanding invoices.
“All our blue chip companies, which constitute our regular clientele, warned us ‘your turnover will be much reduced this year’,” she said. In a last ditch attempt to secure revenue, the agency focused its attention on sourcing new business but to no avail. “We straight away endeavoured to find new clients, but the economic crisis set in and from February to June  no new language courses were registered,” Maroselli lamented.
She stated, “Today AMSL, which has the full support of its clients (we have not lost any), is slowly but surely recovering and finding its feet again.”
All smiles at Alphe Asia
There was a record turnout at the recent Alphe Asia conference in Bangkok, Thailand, which saw 114 agents from 100 agencies meet with 52 potential partner schools.
According to Agent Organiser, Emilie Giret, the event attracted the biggest cross-section of agent nationalities ever, with representatives from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Burma, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam all in attendance.
There was also an increase in the number of US educators and universities present which agents found particularly beneficial, noted Giret. However, some expressed an interest in meeting New Zealand universities at future events.
According to local agent, Kamonruss Banleusombatkul of Born To Be Consultant in Thailand, a highlight was the gala dinner attended by all delegates. “We talked a lot and made friends, not just business,” she said. Dwiraj Sharma from Kathmandu Alfa Beta Institute in Nepal added, “It was a great location in terms of accessibility and hospitality.”
“Overall delegate feedback was very positive and many were impressed with the overall feel of the conference,” said Giret. “All participants conducted business meetings in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere which certainly helped.”
Two study abroad agents are published
Language travel agent, Sung-ll Cho from Uhakadvice in Korea, has written a book about studying abroad, as has a young Brazilian agent, Marina Motta, who works for STB in Recife.
Both books have been published and are intended as a guide for local students thinking about embarking on an overseas study experience.
Motta explained that as well as working for STB agency, she spent eight years attending various study abroad programmes, including the Disney International College Programme in Florida and placements in Bournemouth, Vancouver, Sydney and Paris.
Cho noted that he wrote the book after he realised just how ill-prepared Korean students were for a study abroad vacation.
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, Interlink in Cape Town, South Africa, nominates Lernen und Helfen Sprachreisen in Germany. Luanne McCallum, Owner of the school, explains this decision:
“Interlink School of Languages has had the pleasure of working with Lernen und Helfen Sprachreisen in Cologne for the last three years, so it is my privilege to be able to nominate Silvia Schröder and her agency Lernen und Helfen as Agency of the Month. We have from the very beginning had a well-working and pleasant business relationship based on mutual trust, understanding and respect. It is clear that Silvia and her team are very committed to their work, and have a high service standard. We appreciate their cooperation with us as they have always been very professional, communicate promptly and are thorough in the counselling they give to students. I am also always impressed with Silvia’s ability to understand problematic situations and work out a suitable solution.
Furthermore, what really makes Lernen und Helfen stand out is its policy of donating a portion of each student’s fees to a charity in the country that they study in.”
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Do you think the proposed changes to education export in Australia (most notably the tightening of education-to-migration pathways in the Vocational Education & Training sector) will affect your business?
Amaresh Shanker, Target Counselling Services, India
“Based on my experience of almost 19 years with the Australian education system, I am sure that the tightening of education-to-migration pathways will affect my business. I have no doubt my existing business will go down by 30-to-50 per cent. But at the same time it will help in checking the flow of “not-so-deserving” students (this is what is happening with the UK). And this is the need of the hour. Australia offers an amazing education opportunity to overseas students, and I advocate that all possible checks and screening be enforced to check undeserving students. As almost 30 per cent of prospective students approach us with the sole intention of migration, I was expecting this new policy. It was long overdue. New destinations would be Singapore and some European countries, Canada, Switzerland (only the hospitality sector), the UK and Ireland.”
Vipan Kumar Bajaj, Greatway Immigration & Education Services, India
“The new changes in student migration have affected not only our business but it will affect Australian colleges and sooner or later, it will affect Australia’s economy. Foreign students not only pay a fee but they also meet Australian labour requirements as skilled professionals. All agents, including me, are facing problems from students’ parents as we have been struggling to get refunds for the last nine months [a number of VET colleges were closed for auditing last year].”
Pushpinder Bhatia, PAC Asia Services Pvt. Ltd, India
“Yes it has affected the business as the number of students has gone down and this will affect the overall recruitment revenues but on the other hand I feel the new policy will be good in the long run. Most of these students were primarily linking their vocational education to only immigration hence the motive of most of the students was not really to focus on education but to take this route to migration. The courses were popular as they were low priced and gave migration options immediately after the course, hence they were mostly attracting non-genuine students. The outcome in the short-term may not be good for our market but eventually it will attract quality students looking at education possibilities and not just immigration to Australia. This change has certainly made other markets like Canada and the UK more popular but serious students will eventually return to Australia. At least that’s what we all hope!”
Prasanna Acharya, Education World, India
“From Indian students’ point of view, business will go down until Australian policy changes again. Out of all Indian students going to Australia, 30 per cent opt for higher studies and 50 per cent opt for VET courses. Visa issuance will decrease due to the number of checks, visa interviews; the funding requirement for living expenses has increased by 50 per cent compared with inflation of two per cent; strict rules are now followed for students using an education loan; and the message that the Australian government has not taken enough steps against those found guilty of racial attacks on Indian students. Students previously could manage to show funds for VET courses like commercial cookery, hairdressing, etc. which are cheaper than a Bachelors or Masters degree. Various surveys predict business will go down by between 50-to-80 per cent. Canada is bigger and has a very supportive education-to- migration pathway policy.”
On the move
Adrian Liley has joined British Study Centres in the UK as Market Development Manager. Mr Liley has over 30 years experience of the industry and is a well known figure in the sector and popular speaker on the ELT conference circuit. For the last seven years, he has run his own company, Aasiaquest, based in Suzhou, China, succesfully promoting over 50 universities, colleges and schools to agents in Asia. Mr Liley will spearhead British Study Centres’ marketing activities in Asia, as the company promotes its growing portfolio of schools, including its new year-round adult school, which opens in Bournemouth this spring.
The Language Centre at University of the Arts London in the UK welcomes John Lyons. Mr Lyons joined the university from Study Group in Brighton 18 months ago. After initially working in the university’s International Office, he has recently been promoted to Marketing Coordinator for the language centre. He is looking forward to strengthening current agent relationships and developing new links with Eastern Europe, South America and the Middle East.
Sian Maidment (above) joined Bright World Education team as School Placements Coordinator in January 2010 helping to place over 100 students into UK boarding schools across the UK. Fiona Walters (below) has joined Bright World Guardianships Head Office team having worked as a Local Coordinator for them since 2007. Ms Walters is now Senior Programme Manager for the guardianship programme which is its 10th year of operation.
Ute Gleich has joined Collegium Palatinum in Heidelberg, Germany, as Managing Director. Ms Gleich will continue to work on developing the school and its academic programming. “We have many ideas, and we are looking forward to cooperating with students, universities and colleges, agents, teachers, and all other future partners,” she said.
Helen Lami has moved to Davies, Laing and Dick College (DLD) in London, the UK. DLD is part of the Abbey DLD group of colleges and Ms Lami’s new position is Director of International Admissions at the school. She is marketing for DLD internationally and looking after the college’s agents worldwide. Ms Lami is also a Director of Academic Summer Limited in the UK.
German school becomes Cambridge test centre
Cambridge Esol has approved a second exam testing centre in the German capital, Berlin.
International House Berlin Prolog will begin by offering three main exam sessions per year (only summer and winter dates are available in its first year), with the Key English Test (KET), the Preliminary English Test (PET), the First Certificate in English (FCE), the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) and the Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) widely available as of June this year.
“The fact that, as a private language school, IH Berlin Prolog has become only the fourth Cambridge Esol exam centre in eastern Germany demonstrates our commitment to our customers and to increasing the range of services we offer our learners,” said Sebastian Taylor, Director of Studies at the school. “We’re sure that our customers will jump at the chance of taking Cambridge Esol exams here at IH Berlin Prolog. It’s great to be able to expand our exams portfolio and team up with the leading name in language exams.”
Students wanting to sit the range of Cambridge exams will also be able to undertake targeted preparation courses later this month.
Accommodation boost for Monash in Australia
Monash University in Clayton, VIC, Australia has been granted permission to build a new on-campus accommodation facility equipped to handle 1,700 foreign students.
The accommodation block will solely cater for international students in their first year of study and will counter concerns over student safety in off-campus residences. “One of our principle actions that is readily available to the university is to provide [students with] accommodation on campus,” said Professor Paul Komesaroff at the university. “The idea is to build units for 1,700 students to spend at least one year of their term in Australia on campus.”
The new accommodation plans were unveiled at an industry forum organised by think tank, Global Reconciliation, which looked at how to improve the experiences of international students. A survey conducted by Victoria University revealed that safe accommodation was a major concern for overseas nationals.
Premises boom for International House chain
Having outgrown its previous residence, UK-based IH Newcastle in the UK has announced it is to move to a bigger location.
The new property, which is both grade one- and grade two- listed, features 17 classrooms and a large communal area entitled the Personal Study Programme suite better equipping the school to handle larger groups of international students. Trevor Udberg, Managing Director at the school, said, “International House Newcastle has developed a good reputation for its standards in teaching, accommodation and welfare. Now we have new premises which reflect and enhance those high standards.”
Meanwhile, Clic-IH in Seville in Spain has announced it is to expand its school network in the country. A new campus, based in Cadiz in the south of Spain, will open its doors later this month and will offer a similar academic infrastructure to the Seville branch.
According to Frederic Parrilla, Director of Business Development and Public Relations, the school’s beachside locale is a definite selling point, as are the spacious premises and advanced facilities. “The school is located in the attractive neighbourhood of Bahia Blanca, only a few metres from the beach and in the very heart of the city,” he said.
First international student TV channel set to go live
An Israeli agency Study America is set to launch the first television channel aimed solely at study abroad students.
Launching in June this year, The Student Channel (TSC) will broadcast educational programmes, commercials and promotional clips from academic institutions and service providers, giving students the chance to access information about studying abroad from the comfort of their own home.
“Instead of having to flip through pamphlet after pamphlet or having to buy expensive books, which offer limited and selective information on schools or universities, a prospective student can now simply turn on The Students’ Channel and take a visual tour of a school of their interest,” vouched the website.
David Adler, Managing Director at Study America, told Language Travel Magazine that students aren’t the only beneficiaries of a televisual medium such as this. “From a school’s perspective, we have noticed how difficult it is for them to reach out and promote their education opportunities outside their local community. Schools produce great marketing materials but the distribution is very limited and highly expensive. A global TV channel will allow them to reach millions of students at a relatively low cost, and strengthen their brand and visibility in the process,” he said.
It is hoped the channel, which will be accessible to over 120 million households in North America, the Middle East and Europe from June, will be available in Asia and India next year.
Executive Director of English Australia, Sue Blundell, answers our questions about the association’s plans for the year as well as the recent changes being introduced to the international education sector in Australia.
Full name: English Australia
Year established: 1983
Number of members: 126
Type of members: Public and private colleges teaching English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (Elicos).
Association’s main role: EA aims to establish a high professional and ethical standard in the work of member colleges, assist member colleges in providing high quality educational programs and assist, strengthen and promote the interests of the Elicos sector and member colleges.
Government recognition: Yes
Code of practice: Yes
Complaints procedure: Yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: No
English Australia, PO Box 1437, Darlinghurst NSW 1300, Australia.
Tel: +61 2 9264 4700
Fax: +61 2 9264 4313
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgWeb: www.englishaustralia.com.au
What has your association been up to in the last 12 months?
It has been a busy year for government lobbying, with several enquiries and taskforces looking at improving how we deliver international education in Australia. This has given the association the opportunity to raise a number of issues and gives the government and industry the opportunity to make significant changes over the next 12 months. We believe that students will really notice a difference in how we approach ensuring students have a great experience in Australia.
How has English Australia coped with the recent Geos school closures?
College closures are always traumatic for the students and we have done our best to get all Geos students placed with new colleges as quickly as possible. We have placed over 2,500 students into new colleges EA member colleges have been incredibly supportive, opening their doors to affected students without any financial benefit. It is heartening to see the industry coming together in this way to look after the students.
What’s the outlook for 2010?
2010 will be another challenging year, with colleges coping with: changes in the regulatory environment, reduced demand from some key countries, a continuing strong Australian dollar etc.
How well did last year’s English Australia conference in Melbourne go?
The 2009 EA Conference exceeded all our expectations, with record delegate numbers, record sponsors and record satisfaction levels! Obviously we aim to attract record numbers of delegates again in 2010, but also to deliver a programme that really delivers professional benefit to college staff.
How does EA feel about the Senate Enquiry recommendation that providers only work with agents who have completed relevant training?
Countries providing support and training for agents is important to ensure that students get the best advice. However, mandating a particular course does not acknowledge the differences in skills and knowledge needed by agents who might have totally different client groups. For example, an agent advising language travel students does not need an in-depth knowledge of the Australian education system. EA supports the principle of using regulation to ensure that colleges have a proactive and strategic approach to ensuring that the agents they work with have the knowledge and skills they need to counsel students effectively.
• China Airlines, the flag carrier of Taiwan, is to commence a thrice-weekly service from Taipei to London, UK. The non-stop route coincides nicely with the reciprocal visa agreement between the UK and Taiwan (announced in March last year) whereby those wishing to visit the UK for less than six months on business, or as a tourist, family visitor or student will not require a visa. The airline already offers 21 regular flights to Europe including non-stop services to Frankfurt in Germany and Vienna in Austria.
• Competition for four pairs of gates at the new international terminal at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport is hotting up. US carriers (Delta, United, American, Continental and Hawaiian) are all keen to boost their Asia profile by commencing a twice-daily service to the Asian hub. Traditionally used for smaller, domestic flights, the new five-storey, international wing at Haneda is scheduled for completion in October. In other news, a codeshare agreement has been made between Japan’s All Nippon Airlines (ANA) and Continental Airlines. Passengers travelling with the US carrier will now be able to access routes offered by ANA.
• According to an independent report commissioned by travel search engine, Skyscanner, German tourists spend over US$90 billion a year on leisure travel, US$11.3 billion more than nearest rival, the USA. UK tourists were the third most extravagant travellers, spending an estimated US$65.8 billion, while the French increased their expenditure by 9.6 per cent to US$43.1 billion. With the world economy bouncing back from recession, China is also proving to be particularly fruitful for international tourism. “China is fast rising, spending 21 per cent more on their global travels, and are likely set to grow even more,” said Barry Smith, Skyscanner Cofounder and Business Director.
• Record profits and increased passenger traffic is fuelling Air Asia’s aggressive expansion with nine new routes touted. Having amassed a net profit of RM549 million (US$165 million) in 2009 (and a 21 per cent growth in passenger numbers), the Malaysian airline has set its sights on supporting further “passenger growth of 11 per cent to 14 per cent in 2010” confirmed Airline CEO, Tony Fernandes. In January the airline launched several new services to key Indian destinations such as Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi from Kuala Lumpur and from Penang to Chennai. “AirAsia has well-arrived in the Indian market to change the very definition of low-cost airlines as the India market is booming. We are proud to position Kuala Lumpur as the gateway to India and at the same time it is India’s gateway to ASEAN,” confirmed Fernandes.
• Wizz Air, the Hungarian low-cost airliner, has launched a new service from Belgrade, Serbia to London Luton. The Serbian tourist board hopes the new open skies agreement between Serbia and the European Union which was confirmed late last year will help drive tourism in-country. Malev Airlines (Hungarian), Adria Airways (Slovenian), Climber Sterling (Danish), Tarom (Romanian), FlyNikki (Austrian), Germanwings, Norwegian Air and Windjet (Italian) have also started operating flights to the Serbian capital. “Serbia’s tourism revenue is approximately e668.2 million (US$915 million) annually, but we expect this to increase by 50 per cent with the introduction of low-cost flights and other national carriers into the country,” noted Gordana Plamenac, Director of the National Tourism Organisation in Serbia. “This has been further bolstered by visa free travel for Serbians to EU countries which came into effect from January this year,” he added. Return fares start at e50 (US$68).
• Female passengers travelling with Japan’s All Nippon Airways could soon benefit from women-only toilets. In 2007, an online survey reported that 90 per cent of women polled found the idea of female-only facilities appealing with “mess” and “loo seats being left up” cited as the two main grievances women often face. The new facilities available to females travelling in all classes were due for a March roll out.
• Tourism Auckland in New Zealand has launched a US$2.7 million marketing campaign aimed at increasing the number of Australian tourists to the city. The tourism marketing company’s strategy involves launching a website www.aucklandnz.com, which allows visitors to search and book flights, accommodation and adventure packages in the city.
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