May 2015 issue

News Round Up
Inside the industry
Agency Survey
Secondary Focus 1
Secondary Focus 2
Industry Faces
Tertiary Focus 1
Tertiary Focus 2
Special Report
Regional Focus
Course Guide
Market Analysis

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UK strength

The strength of the UK as an international study destination prevailed throughout 2014, with student numbers, particularly from Europe, dominating the top 10. A streamlining of marketing techniques helped with this, as Georgina Deacon finds out.

There were no major changes to the UK English language teaching sector in 2014, with the top 10 list of nationalities much unchanged from 2013. Italy was still number one with 12.7 per cent, mainly due to the expansion of the PON funding scheme throughout 2014 by the Italian Ministry of Education. The only new addition to the top 10 was Turkey with 3.7 per cent, while enrolments from Chinese students fell out of the list into twelfth place.

Individually, schools reported a variety of different trends, some in keeping with the collective list of top 10 nationalities, some not. “Our best performing nationalities were Italian and Japanese, our worst performing were Spain and South Korea,” says Amelia Hastings at inlingua Cheltenham. Citing “excellent contacts and support” in Japan and the PON scheme in Italy as reasons for growth in these areas, Hastings adds that their Spanish enquiries actually picked up in 2014. “We are seeing more interest in young learners coming individually for courses,” she notes. “We believe that parents are investing in their children’s education earlier and earlier hence why we see an increase in mini-stay student business and the older teenagers coming in the summer.”

At Peartree Languages, Nicky Partridge observes that they have also witnessed an increase in Spanish students “due to strong agent contacts and Spanish-speaking staff at Peartree”, as well as Libyan students “due to one proactive Libyan agent that has been known to the school for around seven years,” says Partridge. Italy was the largest market, while Peartree only received one booking from a Russian agent, “due to the economic crisis in Russia”.

As one of the smaller language schools who took part in our survey, Partridge notes that local changes can have an impact on student numbers at Peartree Languages. “For example, a new group of people moving into the area,” says Partridge. “This has been the case when a new Italian restaurant was opened by a former student who sends all his staff to have lessons with us, perhaps accounting for the large number of current Italian direct bookings.

It is not always local changes that effect bookings. Paul Clark at LTC Eastbourne highlights an increase in Thai students in 2014, a market that increased market share by one per cent comapared with 2013. “Thailand performed particularly well in 2014 because university students had a six-month holiday from April to September due to changes in Thailand’s academic year,” Clark says. “Unfortunately, this was something of a one-off and we don’t expect so many bookings this year.”

One continuing trend that Magda Oziminska, Managing Director at Link School of English observed throughout 2014 was an increasing number of Romanian students. “I believe the reason for this is that by becoming more fluent in English, Romanians are able to obtain better paid jobs which enables them to afford to continue language study, as well as bring their family members to London which become new groups of students in our school,” she explains.

Despite the economic crisis, overall bookings from Europe were not affected, with student weeks from France and Spain in second and third place respectively. With the largest economy in Europe, German bookings also fared well despite not appearing in the top 10. “We had more Germans than any other nationality in both 2013 and 2014,” says Alex Moore at Echo Language School, adding, “Whereas the number of German students was almost exactly the same in both years, we saw more bookings from other nationalities.” The increase in nationalities came from Italy, Spain and Switzerland, but Moore cites a decline from France and Austria.

“Our highest booking nationalities were Italians, French and Germans,” says Verena Sambel at Exsportise. “We have been working with the same partners in these countries for many years and have built up good relationships with them.” Sambel adds that their market is moving towards “more extreme age groups rather than just the middle teenage years”, so increasing their age range has made way for more students.

Currency, political, and visa issues seem to have not affected students coming from Russia with a 4.9 per cent share of bookings, moving from tenth to sixth place in the list of top 10 nationalities. Naomi Webster at BLS English says that their best growth was from Russian and Ukrainian markets. “We provide help wherever possible to students in countries where it may be difficult to get visas,” says Webster. “Last year we focused on the Ukraine/Russian market and targeted some special offers at them so that it was financially easier for them to come. I think this was the main reason for the increase in bookings as the offers went down well.”

At Torquay International School (TIS), Judith Hands describes the situation in Russia as an uncomfortable one, and adds that the decline of the Swiss franc compared to the strength of the British pound is cause for concern. “Swiss always perform best with us,” notes Hands. “However, Japan is a poor performer – we haven’t paid enough attention to this market.”

Bookings from Latin America continued to stay strong throughout 2014. “We have noticed that English UK have been working with BMI fairs in South America to expand the area’s knowledge of the UK and we hope that this will be successful in seeing more students directed to areas outside of the capital,” says Hastings at inlingua Cheltenham. At IH Newcastle, Zoe Woods adds, “New markets such as South America (Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela) are performing really well due to their economic situation.”

In terms of marketing and recruitment, many schools have increased and improved their marketing strategies, with a bigger share of schools’ marketing budget spent on recruitment in Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe. However, while more money was spent on agency costs (33 per cent), the share of students recruited via agents declined from 83 per cent in 2013 to 54 per cent. Woods cites recommendations from family and friends as one of the main sources of international recruitment at IH Newcastle in 2014. At TIS, Hands says that using social media is an effective tool for recruitment, “but also increased marketing activity and travel to markets we haven’t managed to get to before,” she adds.

Agent partnerships are still an integral part of business, as Partridge attests through the strength of Peartree Languages’ bookings from Libyan students. “Our main Libyan agent has lived in the city [Cardiff] for over 10 years and has developed a good relationship with the school as he gradually built his agency, despite the problems within the country,” he says. At LTC Eastbourne, Clark states that their existing agent partners sent more students to the school in 2014 resulting in an increase in bookings.

For 2015, schools predict that exchange rates and the strength of the British pound – in March, it hit a seven-year high against the euro – may have an effect on bookings. “The greater strength of the pound may put the UK at a disadvantage compared to Ireland or the US, which is why we need to make a concerted effort to compete via the quality of our courses,” says Moore at Echo Language School. At Link School of English, Oziminska notes, “[The exchange rates between the pound and Euro, as well as other currencies] may influence the number of students visiting London either for short-term language study or for seeking employment in the UK.”

The UK’s ELT sector is bracing itself for potential change due to the UK’s general election this month, particularly on the issue of visa policy. “We need the government to support our industry and not destroy it with radical visa regulations that make the country unwelcoming to overseas students,” says Hastings. georgina@hothousemedia.com

Eddie Byers, CEO of English UK www.englishuk.com, talks about trends in the UK’s ELT sector and the impact of the government’s visa policy.

“The ELT industry is affected far more than most by politics and international issues, which is why 2015 is shaping up to be another interesting and challenging year for our members.

On the positive side, the global demand for English appears to be as strong as ever, and the UK remains a very popular study destination. Unsurprisingly though, our members are reporting difficulties in certain markets such as the Ukraine and Russia. Fluctuations in foreign exchange rates are causing concerns in other traditionally robust market regions.

The Young Learner sector has been particularly buoyant in the UK in recent years, and the signs are that this is continuing, although clearly we are seeing reduced student numbers from countries such as Russia and Ukraine in the short term.

Closer to home, the UK Government’s visa policy had a significant negative impact on our member schools last year. With the 2015 UK general election too close to call, it is difficult to predict the likely impact on visa policy or attitudes to immigration from the incoming government. This means continuing engagement with politicians and civil servants in the run-up to the election remains crucial, and we are focused on this.

Overall, however, the picture we are getting suggests that 2015 trading is shaping up reasonably well, but at the time of writing, it’s very early in the year to make confident predictions.”

UK language schools’ marketing budget by region (overall %)

W Europe 39% 
Asia 20%
C&E Europe 19%  
Latin America 12%   
Middle East 8%
Australasia 1%
Africa 0.5%
North America 0.5%

Overall average length of stay: 4.7 weeks

Average language tuition per week: 17.3 hours

Average cost of a one-month course, excluding accommodation £948 (US$1,608)

Average cost of residential accommodation per week £234

Average cost of host family accommodation per week £183 (US$310)

*Currencies converted to rates from 17/06/2014

Top nationalities in UK by student weeks - according to schools, 2014


Italian 12.7%
French 6.7%
Spanish 6.5%
Swiss 5.8%
Korean 5.7%
Russian 4.9%
Japanese 4.7%
Brazilian 4.5%
Saudi 4.1%
Turkish 3.7%

22% is the average commission paid on a language course

15% is the average commission paid on accommodation by four of the profiled institutions

Student numbers by age range

Means of recruiting students in UK, 2014

8-11 2.2%

12-15 19.8%

16-18 19.6%

19-24 25%

25-30 16.2%

31-50 13.6%

50+ 3.6%

Agents 54%  
Internet 22%  
Local bookings 11%   
Other means 13%  

Marketing spend by sector (from a selection of schools) 

Agency costs 33%
Commission 27.5%
Incentives 3%
Agency brochure 2.5%
Travel costs 31%
Agent workshops 14%
Student exhibitions 2%
Agency visits 4%
Entertainment 3%
Marketing trips 8%

Publicity costs 36%
Magazines for agents 1%
Magazines for students 3%
Own brochures 11%
Internet 21%

Key points in STM Status survey UK 2014

Number of participating organisations: 53

Total number of students at the organisations in 2014: 89,442

Total number of student weeks in 2014, estimated: 420,377

Participating schools: ABC Languages Limited; Academy SJW; Atlantic Language Training; Bath Academy of English; Bell English UK; Berlitz Manchester; Bloomsbury International; BLS English; Brighton Language College; Celtic English Academy; EC London; Echo Language School; ECS Scotland; ECTARC - The European Centre for Training And Regional Cooperation; Edwards Language School; English 100; Exsportise Ltd; Interlanguage; International House Aberdeen; International House London; International House Newcastle; International Quest Ltd; InTuition Languages; Kilgraston Summer School; Language in London; Link School of English in London; Live Language; LTC Eastbourne; Melton College; Meridian School of English; More Than English; Newbury Hall; Oxford House College; Peartree Languages; Personal English Tutors; Pilgrims English Language Courses – Executives; Regent Language Training; Richard Language College; St Giles Brighton, St Giles Eastbourne, St Giles London Central, St Giles London Highgate; Students International Ltd; Study Links International Ltd; Target Language School; The Burlington School of English; The Heart of England Language School and Study Programmes; Torquay International School; Tti School of English; Unique Language Training; Weymouth English Centre; Wimbledon School of English; Xplore.

Ask the students – view from the classroom

127 students from 30 different countries took part in our survey of language schools in the UK

Students' region of origin Reasons for learning English

Western Europe 45%
Asia 20%
Central and Eastern Europe 14%
Latin America 10%
Middle East 6%
Africa 3%
No answer 2%

Current or future work 47%
Further studies in another English-speaking country 20%
Further studies in the UK 19%
University/college studies at home 7%
For pleasure only 7%

How did students find out about your school

Recommended by an agent 37%

Recommended by friend/relative 31%

On the internet 24%

Advertised 9%

The average age was 25 years

The average class size was nine students

45 per cent of respondents were from Western Europe

20 per cent of respondents were from Asia

59 per cent of respondents booked their course through an agency

98 per cent of respondents would recommend their school

45 per cent of respondents were staying in homestay accommodation

47 per cent of respondents were learning English for current or future work purposes

50 per cent of respondents found it quite easy or very easy to practise their English with local people

35 per cent of students had been on a previous study abroad trip

61 per cent of respondents thought that there was just the right number of students and mix of nationalities in the classroom

Thank you to the following schools who participated in our student survey: Bath Academy of English; Bloomsbury International; Brighton Language College; EC London; Echo Language School; ECTARC - The European Centre for Training And Regional Cooperation; International House Newcastle; Link School of English in London; Peartree Languages; St Giles London Central; The Heart of England Language School and Study Programmes; Torquay International School; Wimbledon School of English.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Study Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.







Centre of English Studies  
ELS Language Centers  
Kings College  
St Giles International  
Xplore Ltd.  

Ability English  
Cairns Language Centre  
English Australia  
ILSC Australia  
Impact English College  
Monash College  

CERAN Lingua International  

Central de Intercâmbio  
UNISUL- Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina   

Mandarin Spring  

Anglophiles Academic  
Country Cousins  
Heart of England Language School  
Islington Centre for English  
Kilgraston Language and Activities School  
Oxford Royale Academy  
Queen Ethelburga's College  

Accent Francais  
Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne  
Groupement FLE  
Institut Catholique de Toulouse - IULCF  
Institut d'Etudes Françaises  
Institut de Touraine  
LSF Montpellier  
Paris Langues  
Riviera French Institute  

MEI Ireland  

Intercultural Institute of Japan  


Education South Africa  
Bay Language Institute  
EC Cape Town  
Eurocentres Cape Town  
Good Hope Studies  
Inlingua Cape Town   
Interlink School of Languages  
International House Cape Town  
Kurus English  
LAL Cape Town  
Language Training Centre   

California ESL  
Summer Study Programs  
University of California Berkeley  
University of California San Diego  


Calgary Board of Education  
Central Okanagan School Dsitrict  
Central Quebec School Board  
Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board  
Eastern Townships School Board  
Edmonton Public Schools  
English Montreal School Board  
Golden Hills School Division #75  
Greater Victoria School District  
Louis Riel School Division  
Niagara Catholic District School Board  
Ottawa Carleton District School Board  
Qualicum International School Program   
Simcoe County District School Board  
St James - Assiniboia School Division  
Waterloo Catholic District School Board  

Carlsbad International School  

United World School of English  

Saint Denis International School  


UNISUL- Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina   

Algonquin College  

Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University  

University of Liverpool  

University of California Berkeley  
University of California San Diego  
Summer Study Programs  


ANDE-LM Ltd Agency  

British Council  
Twin Group  
Trinity College London  

CareMed GmbH  

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