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Contents - November 2004


Special Report
Reaching out to agents
Most of the main language teaching destinations have groups of schools in their country that have come together to form national associations, offering quality ideals. There are also similar associations operating on an international level. While the motivations of such associations might have originally been for lobbying or accreditation purposes, it has become clear that communicating to agents the ideals of an association is now on the agenda. Jane Vernon Smith reports.


Market Report
Ireland hopeful
The language travel market in Ireland experienced a small increase in enrolments in 2003 compared with the previous year, a disappointing result when compared to the strong growth shown over the past three years. However, many schools are confident that 2004 will bring better results.



Destination
US east coast snapshot
The US east coast offers a whole range of language learning environments, including academic seats of learning, large international city centres and quiet country towns. Gillian Evans looks at some of the many attractions of the area and finds out how language students spend their free time.



Opinion

Standing apart
Attending an international workshop organised for the study abroad business is a high point in the schedule for many in the industry. These events provide an opportunity to touch base with friends and colleagues and find out about market trends and changes in other countries, as well as furthering business opportunities.

This year's Alphe Workshop in London and International Languages & Education UK Fair in Brighton were no different, with good business and great socialising opportunities a common feature of both workshops. Finding out about new business opportunities and market trends is a constant process as each year new initiatives and ideas hit the marketplace. For example, at the Alphe Workshop, an innovative new product was introduced to agents - English language learning through farmstay in Australia. And in Brighton, an English language school in a new destination, English in Barbados, was launched.

Not only do the types of product evolve with work experience, internships and volunteer programmes becoming popular, for example, but the ways in which business is done also evolve. In our article on pricing policy, we highlight different ways in which agencies sell schools' products on to clients, with the contentious issue of discounting now occurring in some markets. The general agreement seems to be that working with one standard price is preferred but some schools point out that it is difficult for them to control agent practices.

As the marketplace continues on its slow diversification process, there is more reason than ever for schools, colleges and universities to make an effort to stand out from the crowd. Such efforts were being made at workshops this year - from impressive photo tours of a school to the gifts bestowed on agents by potential partners. This year, one school in London was offering apples to agents, complete with a company sticker!

Agencies also need to make the same effort to stand out from the crowd in their local marketplace. Apart from excellent service and the ensuing word-of-mouth recommendation that this generates, agencies might specialise in placements to one country to capture a strategic market. One of our survey respondents in Taiwan indicates that they represent only the UK, although the UK remains the most popular country across all other agencies' business.

The UK seems in danger of losing favour with Chinese students at the moment, conversely, as the level of visa refusal rockets. Universities, colleges and language schools have all noted problems in this area. A seminar on visa issuance held during the Brighton workshop did offer institutions and agents the chance to meet relevant UK visa authorities, although case-by-case analysis was not possible.

For agents, being able to offer consistency in visa service is as important as a good product range. Tapping into the zeitgeist in terms of products means offering programmes with a difference. We provide a guide to Spanish language programmes combined with additional cultural activities for agencies keen to work with interest-led courses in the Spanish market .

Standing out from the crowd is a primary goal of the language schools' associations in the marketplace too, on a national level. And as we find out, communicating the quality distinction of an association's membership to agents has also taken on a priority for many of these associations in the last few years.


Opinion
Standing apart
Attending an international workshop organised for the study abroad business is a high point in the schedule for many in the industry. These events provide an opportunity to touch base with friends and colleagues and find out about market trends and changes in other countries, as well as furthering business opportunities.

News
Workshops provide forum for industry
FielsNZ sheds its skin
Concern in UK as language study in decline

Travel News
Fuel prices spiral upwards
Global air travel returns to pre-2001 levels
Aer Lingus axes business class
Branson eyes China and India

Agency News
Salta in Switzerland comes to life
English UK's first inward mission
Dodgy immigration agents exposed in NZ

Agency Survey
Taiwan looking up
After negative growth in 2002, the Taiwanese outbound student market picked up in 2003, despite the impact of Sars on student bookings.

Feedback
Germany feedback
The expansion of the European Union in May has resulted in a large increase in the number of Central and Eastern European students going to study in Germany as work opportunities increase.

Course Guide
Spanish and culture
Learning a language for business purposes requires the acquisition of skills and vocabulary that may not be covered in a general language course. The following language schools in France offer courses specifically geared towards the needs of the business executive.

City Focus
Out and about in Vancouver
Offering a wealth of outdoor activities, Vancouver provides language students with a particularly lively experience in a safe environment. Bethan Norris provides the lowdown on this student friendly city.

Q&A
CEA's slow progress
The current operating environment in the USA has meant a slower than expected pace of development for the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA).

Status
Status: Italy 2003
The Status survey is a venture by Language Travel Magazine that aims to gather specific market data about all of the main language teaching markets in the world. Through our initiative, it is now possible to compare world market statistics.