UED reacts to direct booking in Turkey
Turkish agency association, UED, has issued a warning that some international education providers are using unfair techniques to bypass local agents and recruit students directly.
The schools were not named, but in a press release UED President, Eren Göker, states that those involved have previously been working with Turkish agents for many years. “We all in UED believe that these schools got the benefits of a proper service from the vast majority of local agents,” Göker said.
“It is disappointing for us to see that our school partners in the past prefer to act as overseas agents and to enter into our market to compete with local agents, but also doing that by some unfair ways such as employing Turkish speaking staff and having telephone lines which look like local lines, but in fact are connected to their central offices abroad,” said Göker. He added that the offices were then undercutting agents by offering previous year’s prices to students who directly contact them, but asking agents to offer the 2012 prices.
Erbu Unal, an advisor at UED member agency CDS Istanbul, said, that students will often search for a school’s website after the agency makes a recommendation. “The schools take advantage of this and offer discounted prices or easy payment options which agents are not allowed [to offer]. We may consider not working with the schools if our business starts to see more of this kind of competitive behaviour,” said Unal.
Another UED member, Canan Sulaç of Setur Servis Turistik, said business had been affected by direct recruitment in previous years and that direct booking reductions were not good for the market. She added that they would not work with schools that acted in this manner.
Göker added, “As UED, we reserve the right to advise our member agencies to reduce all relations with these schools…and to complain about these schools to the legal authorities in Turkey.”
Alphe Brazil 2012 biggest ever
The Alphe Brazil Conference sold out completely this year with total attendance figures the highest ever recorded. In total, 93 agencies were represented, up nine percentage points on 2011. Delegates from 84 potential partner schools attended, up from 80 previously.
Overall, attendees were satisfied with the three-day event. Maria Eglantine Gabarra, Executive Director at Belta, the Brazilian advisor association, delivered an opening presentation at the workshop. She commended the high quality of educators and overall event organisation. Ian Gillanders from Access International Language Centre in Canada, meanwhile, highlighted agent professionality, indicating that meetings were all of a “high calibre”.
English UK Northern Ireland established
English UK has announced the formation of its newest geographical sub-group: English UK Northern Ireland.
All six of the English UK members in Northern Ireland are the founders of the new grouping: International House Belfast, Foyle Language School, North West Academy, Queens Into, the University of Ulster and Belfast Metropolitan College.
“It made sense to form English UK NI as it gives us much more power as an active body in approaching and working with our tourist board and other organisations,” said Paul McMullan, Principal of IH Belfast. “What we’re trying to do is pull together not only the English UK NI members but the many other bodies, government and otherwise, involved with tourism and inward investment. We want to be working together to put NI on the map,” he said.
The group plans to create a website soon and will work together to organise inbound fam trips for agents.
Maltalingua becomes Malta’s newest English language school
A new English language school, Maltalingua, has been opened in a newly renovated building in St. Julian’s, Malta, by the German agency, Sprachdirekt GmbH.
Facilities at the school include modern learning materials, a reception hall, a computer room, free Wi-Fi, a large roof terrace and a private pool. Michael Brewster, the school’s Director of Studies, has designed the curriculum using “modern teaching principles”.
Founder and Managing Director, Mark Holland, said, “After 10 years of working with schools around the world we are very proud to be opening our first English language school in Malta.” Holland grew up in Malta and now lives in Germany, where he founded Sprachdirekt GmbH, a language school agency in Munich.
“We feel the experience gained as a leading international language school agency, representing 36 language schools around the world, provides us with a unique insight into the global industry. We feel that our customer focused approach will enable us to meet and exceed the expectations of our clients,” added Holland.
Australian decline figures disputed
Australia’s international education industry lost AUS$3 billion (US$3.18 billion) of revenue last year due to declining international student numbers, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed, although the extent of the decline has been disputed by the government and education leaders.
The figures show income falling from AUS$17.2 billion (US$18.2 billion) in 2010 to AUS$13.9 billion (US$14.7 billion) in 2011, a 20 per cent drop. Meanwhile, the government’s Australia Education International (AEI) statistics indicate that student commencements for 2011, across all sectors, declined by 8.6 per cent, with each sector suffering a fall.
Sue Blundell, Executive Director of English Australia, the peak body representing public and private language providers, said the federal government had not done enough to ease the sector’s crisis. The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (Acpet) Deputy CEO, Michael Hall, slammed the government for recently agreeing an AUS$275 million (US$291 million) bailout for General Motors while ignoring the international education sector, which employs far more people.
Simon Marginson, a HE expert at the University of Melbourne, said, “It bears out our worst fears about the downturn,” adding it would take time for the Knight Review to take effect.
In answer to the figures, Tertiary Education Minister, Chris Evans, said, “Most of the fall off has been in the lower level vocational education courses.” He added that declines reflected changes that the governement made to prevent vocational courses being used as migration pathways. Evans said that the drop off was “a good thing” in the sense of cleaning up the sector and promoting quality.
Blundell responded, “I was disappointed to read these comments from the minister. He does not seem to be aware of his own department’s data, which shows that the most significant decline has been experienced by the English language sector.” The Elicos sector suffered a 13.5 per cent decline in commencements in 2011, while the VET sector dropped 7.3 per cent. “The declining numbers are across all our top ten markets including those in Asia, Europe and Latin America,” said Blundell.
Languages Canada conference largest yet
The 2012 Languages Canada conference was the language school association’s largest ever annual gathering, with over 200 attendees.
A total of 145 English and French language programme members attended the event, along with 25 exhibitors and other guests. “This is Languages Canada’s largest conference to date and we’re extremely pleased with the turn out,” said Gonzalo Peralta, Languages Canada Chief Executive.
Peralta added, “The theme of this year’s conference, United and Growing, celebrated our achievements over the past year, which have been significant. And it also set the tone for the year ahead. As a member-driven association we’re strong and effective when we’re united and speak with one voice. I’m confident that 2012 will bring its challenges and along with those, immense rewards.”
During the AGM, Sharon Curl, President of Eurocentres Canada, was announced as the association’s new President, taking over from Calum MacKechnie (pictured), who was given special recognition for his outstanding contribution to Canada’s international education sector.
Work experience and au pair sectors gather for WETM-IAC
The Work Experience Travel Market and IAPA Annual Conference (WETM-IAC) attracted 200 delegates for the specialist work experience, volunteer, and au pair sector-based event, organised by the Wyse Travel Confederation.
In total, 160 trading organisations were present, with 29 first time attendees. Approximately 1,459 business appointments were conducted with satisfaction levels reported as very high. Seminars included a workshop on the volunteering industry, which was reported as a booming sector. Social events included a welcome reception and a networking dinner.
Delegates could also collect a copy of the recently released Youth and Student Travel Market Pricing, Industry Review, the confederation’s second analysis of product pricing in the sector.
MEI pilot programme for Chinese students in Ireland
Marketing English in Ireland (MEI), the English language school association, has launched a pilot programme in partnership with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that is aimed to position Ireland as a leading provider in the Chinese market.
Key to the MEI member scheme is measurement of outcomes, with student levels tracked at the beginning and end of their course against Ielts or equivalent tests to demonstrate progress. “China is the market of markets,” said CEO of MEI, David O’Grady. “We are looking to wed the skills we have in teaching English with the skills Chinese students need to return and run businesses in China.”
INIS will provide an additional 400 visas for the pilot scheme that will be assigned for priority consideration, usually processed within 14 days. A bond system may be used for visa applications as a proof of finances. The programme will be run through trusted agents, selected by Fáilte Ireland, the tourism association, and INIS.
The partnership between MEI and INIS follows a similar previous arrangement with students from Turkey, and O’Grady added, “We are very happy with this partnership with INIS and see it as a template for future markets.” The pilot scheme is expected to expand in the next two years, if successful, and it is hoped many participating students will continue on to higher education courses in Ireland. The scheme does not affect general recruitment of Chinese students by language schools.