November 2008 issue

Agency News
Agency Survey
Market Report
Star Awards
Special Report
Course Guide

Contact Point:
Request information from our advertisers

pdf version
To view this page as a pdf file click on this button.

If you do not have Acrobat, you can download it from Adobe for free

Back issues

Status Survey

Link to our site

Get a Free Copy

What are agents?

Calendar of events
Useful links
Language Travel Magazine
11-15 Emerald Street
London, England
T: +44 (0)20 7440 4020
F: +44 (0)20 7440 4033
Pacific Office
T/F: +61 (0)8 9341 1820

Other products

The bigger picture

In a multi-million dollar industry such as English language training, it is useful to know how each school and each country fits into the bigger picture. Amy Baker reports on market share in the global English language teaching industries in native English speaking countries.

There are many different ways to read success in the English language teaching market. At first glance, the UK seems to be the most successful country, with a clear majority of students choosing to study in the UK – almost half, in fact, if we consider student enrolments (see fig.1). However, the better measurement of performance is considered to be student weeks, which captures total number of enrollees within a market as well as their combined length of stay within a country. In this case, the UK loses market share to the USA and Australia most markedly, as these countries clearly attract longer-term students (see fig.2).

All student traffic is converted into revenue at the end of the day and, as currencies rise and fall in value against each other, income is also a more flexible figure. However, in this 2007 report, market share by revenue sees the UK slightly regain its stature, earning one-third of the total revenue generated by English language training in native countries, globally. The total revenue generated is an impressive US$10 billion, up from close to US$9 billion in 2006 (see LTM, November 2007, pages 34-38).

Another interesting statistic to observe within global performance indicators is business growth within an individual country, year on year (see fig.8). In this respect, Australia has performed well, with 24.6 per cent growth in student weeks year on year, but Malta is in the lead, with an impressive 34 per cent rise in student weeks taught in one year.

Individual success stories
One reason for this growth in Malta was the decision by huge numbers of Spanish students on the newly available scholarships to study on this Mediterranean island last year. With host families and residences full, there were reports of hotels overcrowded with students and capacity problems.

Since then, the country’s small yet motivated ELT industry, spearheaded by its association, Feltom, has adapted and put provisions in place to cope with continued high demand, as the late surge of Spanish students took many by surprise in 2007. With a best-ever year under their belts, however, Andrew Mangion, President of Feltom, testifies that growth may be limited to the off-peak season in the future.

“While I still think that there is market upside to be had in Malta, market growth will come during the low season and shoulder months from long-term students in Asia, South America and the Middle East,” he predicts, saying he expects less market growth during the summer season “due to the current and foreseeable lack of resources, unless of course there is some major increase in resources”. He adds that he expects some consolidation, “with some smaller players pulling out and others possibly being acquired by local and/or foreign entities”.

As Mangion observes, costs in Malta will certainly go up too, given that the country is now in the eurozone, sharing a currency with Ireland. Nevertheless, “Malta will continue to remain price competitive vis-a-vis the UK and Ireland and the quality of its offerings will only get stronger,” states Mangion.

Relative costs
Because of the rise in value of the euro, Ireland, too, had a good year in 2007 in terms of revenue earnt – almost rivalling Canada in dollar turnover. A growth in average length of stay, rather than a major increase in actual student intake, was the reason behind its 22 per cent hike in students by volume, which enhanced its earnings significantly.

The rise in value of the euro, however, also means that in dollar terms, Ireland is getting more expensive. In fact, Ireland beat the UK to win the accolade of most expensive destination. From an average spend per week of US$938 in 2006, the increase year on year was US$446 in Ireland; a significant jump to US$1,384 (this includes tuition, accommodation, leisure, food and all extras). Meanwhile, the average spend per week in the UK – based on the same figures produced by our Status surveys for all countries – had in fact declined very marginally year on year, from US$1,099 to US$1,080. This change indicates recent currency fluctuations as the value of the UK pound has declined while the value of the euro has increased.

Nevertheless, in Ireland, there is optimism about further business growth, especially with government attention benefiting the industry – the new Education Ireland brand should launch next year (see LTM, October 2007, page 6). Fionnán Nestor, Product Development Officer for English Language Learning at Failte Ireland (the Irish Tourist Board), relates, “Anecdotally, major traditional players and the larger institutions, particularly in urban centres like Dublin, Cork and Galway, are reporting that 2008 is performing above the levels expected in light of a global downturn in international travel.” She adds, “Demand for English language training among international students coming to study at higher education institutions has also continued to rise.”

Global feel-good factor
There seems to be all-round optimism from English language teaching countries, including Canada, which posted the next-best increase in student weeks, year on year. Like Ireland, Canada has a new cohesive body that markets learning English and French in Canada to a global audience: Languages Canada.

Calum MacKechnie, President of the association, says he thinks the next few years look very, very promising. “Canada has been relatively slow to get into the market and as a result, we are at a less mature stage in our development than some of the major players,” he relates. “Only now is Canada beginning to get over its fragmentation problems and to get itself organised.” He goes further: “The country is a sleeping giant, with vast untapped educational resources, that is now beginning to wake up and assert itself.”

Canada’s neighbour is also its rival for English language students, and the USA had also suffered from “fragmentation” problems, for want of a better word. With no government body promoting international education and a number of educator associations, there was much grass-roots activity but little hierarchical impact. That, too, has changed, with a new bill making its way through US congress that supports a new visa for short-term study, and a coalition of associations working closely with lobbyists, “who in turn work constantly with key legislators critical to international education exchange”, recounts May Arthur, President-Elect of the American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP). 

Gordon Clark, Immediate Past President of AAIEP, adds, “We see tremendous potential and significant growth”, and he says that there is hope that the new US president and administration will be much more globally minded. Presidential candidates sent foreign policy advisors to meet with industry members at a recent conference on international education.

In Brazil, Tereza Fulfaro of large agency chain, Central de Intercambio (CI), backs up Clark’s prognosis. “The USA will recover its market share,” she asserts. “This is already showing, as consulates are speeding up student visa processing and being more open to students in general.”

Going up down under
Elsewhere, Australia does seem to be at the top of its game at the moment, and with recently revised assessment levels for 43 countries (34 of which were favourable), it will now be easier for more students to consider applying to study in the country.

Of the 43 nations that had rules amended, 23 – including Brazil, Korea, the Philippines, South Africa and Thailand – will have their assessment level reduced to 1 for a number of education sectors. According to the immigration department, “This will enable these applicants to join the growing number of students applying for their initial student visa online using the eVisa facility.” In 2007-2008, more than 85 per cent of eligible students applying for their student visa from outside Australia chose to apply for a student eVisa.

Sue Blundell at English Australia underlines the strong migration need that has aided the industry and which explains, in part, the government’s enthusiasm for streamlining access for students: “One of the primary drivers at the moment is Australia’s need for skilled migrants,” she says. “The Australian government has developed transparent pathways for international students to transition into migrant programs and English language skills are a very important part of this transition.”

A strong regulatory framework, attractive lifestyle, quality schools and the ability to work part-time for students (a de facto part of a student visa since this year) are other reasons for Australia’s growing appeal. “Australia has established a very strong niche in the market and has a clear identity in terms of the educational product and opportunities offered to international students,” affirms Blundell, who says, “The Australian profile is based on nationally consistent quality standards, strong consumer protection mechanisms, a rewarding lifestyle and natural environment and a culture that allows learners to grow and explore within the learning environment.”

Capacity for growth
The UK also posted double-digit growth in 2007 and Tony Millns, Chief Executive at English UK, is also buoyant about the outlook for the future. He points out that the weak pound currently makes the UK more attractive on price, and the rising cost of aviation may be a disadvantage to Australia and New Zealand for those who consider them long-haul locations. A new visa system coming into effect next year should also help: student visas will be guaranteed for those who meet the entry criteria, which is confirmation of enrolment from an accredited school and proof of sufficient funds.

“The UK has over 400 accredited English language centres, so we have significant capacity,” he adds. “Some competitor destinations such as Ireland and Malta have much less capacity, and even Australia is finding teacher recruitment difficult recently.“

If we assess the performance of each English language teaching country by capacity (assuming populace as a standard measure of capacity) then Malta is by far the best performer, per capita – or the most stretched – with English language students equivalent to an incredible 21.4 per cent of the population (see box above).

It is South Africa that has the most potential to grow its industry. At present, most of the ELT schools in the country are located in Cape Town, with a few schools dotted around in other locations. In comparable terms, South Africa is a tiny destination, accounting for 1.2 per cent of the market by student weeks. However, with larger players such as EF and EC having opened a branch in the country, it is increasingly “on the map” as an English language learning destination.

Gavin Eyre, spokesperson for school association, Eltasa, says, “We envisage that over the next five years, as South Africa grows within the world travel markets, the ELT business goes from strength to strength.” He says he expects more larger chains to open up in the future, and adds, “Of course the 2010 Fifa World Cup has also given South Africa a huge marketing boost.”

NZ back in vogue
One further good news story among the main ELT destinations is New Zealand, which had certainly suffered from lacklustre enrolments for a few years since its peak of 2003. In 2007, there was a 9.6 per cent rise in student weeks. This is contrasted with a static result in 2006 on 2005, and an actual decline in student numbers in the same period of two per cent. Instead, student numbers also picked up by 12.9 per cent in 2007.

“I see a good future as our schools build on their strengths and keep a diverse range of students coming,” says Stuart Boag of Education New Zealand, who points out that the New Zealand government is working to ameliorate immigration rules for students. Saudi Arabian students, many on scholarships, were the biggest reason for New Zealand’s return to form, with their investment in New Zealand education up by 68 per cent to the year ending March 2008.

“We have seen significant increases in student flows from areas such as the Middle East and South America, and new interest from regions such as Central Asia,” comments Boag. “More mature markets in Asia and Europe are also continuing to support New Zealand. Schools continue to develop their programmes to meet the particular needs of markets whether they be geographic or based around special requirements from foundation programmes through to special interest groups.”

Boag makes an interesting point about where the country’s competition lies. Australia is its neighbour and closest rival, but, he says, “the biggest competition will come from non-English speaking countries that are ramping up their own abilities to teach English, either to their own nationals or to international students.” With India, Singapore and Malaysia all positioning themselves as English tuition destinations, there is significant competition from Asian destinations.
“There is always a big advantage in learning English in a country that speaks it, but as English becomes more widespread as a ‘first choice second language’ there will be many alternatives to the traditional providers,” says Boag. Nevertheless, right now, the outlook and recent performance of the main ELT destinations has been an impressive tour de force.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

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





UK Guests Ltd  

Boa Lingua  
Bridge Agency
      Overseas Education

English Australia  
IALC International  
Languages Canada /
      Langues Canada  
MEI~Relsa Ireland  
Perth Education
Quality English  

Student Guard

Your World on

Business Telecom

Malta Tourism

English Bay
Kaplan Aspect
      Opus Programme  
Rennert Bilingual  
Twin Group
      (Ireland, UK)
IALC International
      House World
Langton Network
MEI-~Relsa Ireland  
Quality English  

Ecela -
      Latin Immersion  

Geos International
      New Zealand)
Griffith University  
Language Studies
Pacific Gateway

Ceran Lingua
      (Belgium, France,
      Spain, UK)
Bodwell College  
College Platon  
East Coast School
      of Languages
English Bay
English Language
      Training College
English School
      of Canada  
Global Village
      (Australia, Canada,
Hansa Language
      Centre of Toronto  
Intrax International
iTTTi Vancouver  
Language Studies
Language Studies
National School of
Red Leaf Student
      Program and Tours
Richmond School
      District #38  
Saint Mary's
Seneca College  
Stewart College
      of Languages  
University of
Vancouver Island
      University (VIU)  
Vanwest College  
YMCA International
      Language School,

Mandarin House  

Karlov College  

IH Cairo  

Ardmore Language
      (UK, USA)
Bell International 
      (Malta, UK)
Camp Beaumont  
Hampstead School
      of English  
      House Newcastle  
      House World
InTuition Languages
(Australia, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, South America,
      Spain,UK, USA)
IP International
      Projects GmbH 
      (England, France, 
      Germany, Spain)
Kaplan Aspect 
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South Africa,
      UK, USA)
LAL Language and
      (Canada, Cyprus,
      Ireland, England,
      South Africa,
      Spain, Switzerland,
London Metropolitan
Malvern House
      College London  
Millfield School  
      (Ireland, Italy,
      UK, USA)  
Queen Ethelburga's
St Giles Colleges
      (Canada, UK, USA)  
Study Group  
       (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa, Spain,
Twin Group  
      (Ireland, UK)
University of Essex -
Wimbledon School
      of English  

France Langue  
Langues Sans
Silc - Séjours
      (England, France,

Carl Duisberg
      (England, Germany) 
F+U Academy  
Inlingua Berlin  
      House Berlin -

Alpha College of
Centre of English
      (Ireland, UK)
English in Dublin  
Irish College of
ISI - International
      Study Institute
Language College
Swan Training


      Language School  

Alpha School of
      Language School  
EC English
      Language Centre  
      (England, Malta,
      South Africa, USA)
Iels - Institute of
      English Language
International School
      of Languages  

Seafield School of

EAC Language
      Centres and Activity
      (England, Ireland,
      Scotland, Wales)
University of Stirling  

Cape Studies  
EC Cape Town  
      Cape Town  
Good Hope Studies  
Interlink School of
LAL Cape Town  
Shane Global
      Language Centres -
      Cape Town  

Esade - Executive
      Language Centre  
International House
      Sevilla - Clic  
Malaca Instituto -
      Club Hispanico SL  
Pamplona Learning
      Spanish Institute  

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
      China, Ecuador,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, Malta, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Scotland, Spain,
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
Germany, Italy,
      Japan, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Spain, Switzerland,
IH Geneva  

ALCC - American
      Language &
ELS Language
Global Immersions
Rennert Bilingual  
University of
      California Riverside
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)