||With Korea's economy performing well and the growing interest in language travel, Korean agents are confident that their market will continue to grow.
|The total students placed in 2001 by the 10 agencies in our survey was 8,658
Individual agencies placed between 8 and 5,000 students on language courses per year
Average growth of combined agency business in 2001 was 29 per cent
Average length of stay for Korean students was 26 weeks
Commission rates ranged from 15 to 30 per cent, averaging out at 18 per cent
January was the most popular time of year for Koreans to take a language travel course
Forty-eight per cent of Korean students stayed with host families
The average spend on tuition and accommodation was US$350
||Most popular courses
New Zealand 7%
Junior progs. 1%
Lang. + work 1%
Summer vac. 8%
Academic prep. 10%
Language plus 1%
|Reasons for language travel
||Age range of clients
|Studies overseas 51%
Studies at home 27%
Current work 12%
||How do agencies find new schools to represent?
|Private apartment 10%
Host families 48%
Other (incl. direct contact from schools) 17%
Other press 3%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
Education New Zealand 78%
British Council 100%
The Korean language travel market experienced another successful year in 2001, with nine of the 10 Korean language travel agents who took part in this issue's Agency Survey reporting that student bookings rose by between 10 and 100 per cent in 2001. The average growth rate across all agencies topped 29 per cent for the second consecutive year (see Language Travel Magazine, November 2001, pages 16-17). The reasons given for the buoyant performance were increased advertising by the agencies themselves, combined with the growing interest in overseas studies and the general feel-good factor among consumers because of the continued growth of the Korean economy.
Although the bulk of Korean language travel students are of university age, it is the 16-to-18 year old age group that has increased its share of enrolments, up from six per cent in last year's survey to 17 per cent this year. The 12-to-15 year old age group was also up by two percentage points this year. This may be owing to the renewed interest in secondary education overseas. One agent highlighted 16-to-18 year olds as being the age group to watch, as more and more students were chosing to go to high school overseas in preparation for undergraduate studies in the same country. Three agents indicated that the 19-to-30 year old age category would continue to grow, as there was high demand for English skills among university students.
Language and destination trends
English language courses, which dominate the market in Korea, accounted for a higher proportion of bookings in this year's survey. Demand went up from 84 per cent in 2000 to 92 per cent in 2001. Japanese was the second most popular language among agency clients in 2001, accounting for five per cent of enrolments. Other languages mentioned by our respondents included French, Spanish, German and Chinese. The USA remained the number-one language travel destination for Koreans.
Our Korean agents estimated that just over 60 per cent of clients had a clear idea about which country they wanted to study in before they received any advice from the agency, while about 33 per cent knew their preferred city and 21 per cent came with the name of their school. Of these, following a consultation with a student adviser, 32 per cent changed their minds about the country, 37 per cent chose a different city and 41 per cent selected another school.
Forecast for 2002
All but one of our Korean agents forecast further growth in 2002. One respondent also mentioned that demand for work experience programmes is increasing as students seek to equip themselves with useful experience for the job market. One agent said he thought their sales would continue to drop owing to the negative impact of online bookings.
Korea's restructuring following its economic collapse in 1997 has paid off, with its sovereign credit rating back to pre-1997 levels with three major credit rating agencies in June this year.
The won-dollar exchange rate has continued to drop since mid-April owing to the weakening US dollar and the continuing Korean economic upturn. The value of the won against the dollar has risen by 11.8% since the end of 2001.
The unemployment rate in Korea was at 2.7 per cent in June, the lowest level since December 1997.
Wholesale and retail trade was up by 4.6 per cent by the end of 2001, and continued to rise in 2002, rising by 7.6 per cent in May.
Source: Korean Ministry of Finance and Economy
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in our survey:
CICI Ednet, Hankook Education, Hansville Academy of Education, JS Center for Foreign Study, KAMC, Myongdong, New Ivy Overseas Education Center, SM Education, Sungmoon Study, Uhak.com
Korean agents named a range of language programmes they work with, including,
in Australia: Alpha Beta Colleges, Sydney, NSW. In Canada: Language Studies Canada, various; Shane Global Village English Centres, various; Vancouver English Centre, Vancouver, BC. In New Zealand: Capital Language Academy, Wellington; Language Studies International, Auckland. In the UK: House of English, Brighton. In the USA: California State University Long Beach, Long Beach CA; ELS Language Centers, various; Houghton Academy, Houghton, NY; Kaplan International, Los Angeles, CA; Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL; Rennert Bilingual, New York, NY; San Diego State University, San Diego, CA; St Giles International, San Francisco, CA; Tacoma College, Tacoma, WA; University of California Schools, various, CA; University of Findlay, Findlay, OH; Wyoming Seminary, Kinston, PA.
Worldwide: EF; Embassy CES; Eurocentres