|The total number of students placed by the 13 agencies in our survey was 7,303
Individual agencies placed between 30 and 3,540 students on courses per year
Average business growth was 9.8 per cent in the last 12 months
The average length of stay for Italian students was three weeks
Overall, 68 per cent of Italian students preferred host family accommodation
85 per cent of agency clients were studying abroad for further work purposes
Language learning is the most lucrative sector of the Italian study abroad market
|Most popular course requests
||Average percentage of agency business by sector
|1. General language 65%
2. Junior programmes 17%
3. Intensive 5%
4. Lang plus work experience 5%
5. Summer vacation 5%
6. Business 2%
7. Academic/exam prep 1%
||1. Language programmes 90%
2. Work & Travel 7%
3. Higher education 1%
4. Secondary education abroad 1%
5. Internships 5%
|Reasons for studying overseas
|1. Future work 85%
2. Further studies
at home 7%
3. Current work 3%
4. Further studies overseas 2.5%
5. Pleasure 2.5%
||1. UK 49%
2. Ireland 26%
3. Spain 9%
4. Malta 5%
5. Germany 4%
6. France 3%
7. USA 3%
8. Australia 1%
|How do agents recruit students?
||How do agents find new schools to represent?
|1. Word-of-mouth 52%
2. Website 18%
3. E/online marketing 18%
4. Seminars to students 7%
5. Mail shots 3%
6. Advertising in press 1%
|| 1. B2B conferences
2. Language fairs and student expos 18%
3. Internet 18%
4. STM 8%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
English Australia 61%
Languages Canada 61%
Groupement FLE 54%
Italian in Italy 38%
Eng NZ 54%
British Council 100%
English UK 92%
World Organisation 85%
Quality English 92%
Compared with last year’s survey of outbound student business in Italy (see STM, November 2011, pages 30-31), average business growth was 9.8 per cent, up from 8.4 per cent. This year six agencies recorded an increase of between two and 50 per cent in agency bookings, while three agencies documented a business decrease of between 15 and 40 per cent. A further three noted client bookings had remained stable, while one agency declined to comment. Historically, Italian students have always enjoyed short-term study options, a trend reflected again in this year’s average length of stay of three weeks. This is compared with four weeks in 2011 and 2.3 weeks in 2010.
Language and destination trends
A total of 80 per cent of agency clientele requested to study English abroad according to this year’s survey of Italian agency trends, down two percentage points on previous results. Other languages requested included Spanish (10 per cent), French (six per cent) and German (four per cent). The UK remained the number one destination choice for Italian student clients, although its share dropped from 66 per cent of the market to 49 per cent. With students perhaps tempted by more competitive tuition rates, closest ELT rival market Ireland made some real headway, with 26 per cent of agency clientele requesting this destination in the last 12 months, up from nine per cent previously. Spain was the most requested non-English speaking destination (nine per cent).
Student and course trends
The majority of Italian students requested language-based courses depending on student age. In fact, the percentage of clients choosing a general language programme this year grew by 29 percentage points to 65 per cent. Junior courses remained the second most popular type of programme (17 per cent compared with 28 per cent previously). Study travel was predominantly undertaken with future work prospects in mind (85 per cent up from 28 per cent). The next most popular reason given for studying abroad was for further study at home (seven per cent compared with 25 per cent).
Given that the majority of agency clients requested general or junior language provision, it is perhaps unsurprising that language learning is the mainstay of business for Italian agencies. This sector represented, on average, 90 per cent of all business. The next most significant sector was work and travel, with a seven per cent share of the market, up on the 5.5 per cent recorded last year. When asked how agencies sourced new business partners, the majority (53 per cent) of new contacts were made at agent-focussed conferences. Searches via the Internet (18 per cent) and attendance at language fairs and student expos (18 per cent) were other valuable methods. When marketing their agent services, Italian agencies relied on student or previous client referrals (52 per cent) to spread the word.
Despite some potentially difficult operating conditions on the horizon, several Italian agencies both small and large remained optimistic in their future business forecasts. One agent noted that, crisis permitting, they hoped to regain a small percentage of business lost over the last 12 months. Another forecasted a 15 per cent growth in the number of students they would send abroad. The business environment is changing all the time, said another, adding that it is important therefore to invest more time and energy in new projects.
• Prime Minister Mario Monti’s government is implementing a series of austerity measures worth 120 billion (US$25.6 billion) as it grapples with rising borrowing costs.
• Italy has one of the biggest debt burdens of any of the major eurozone countries (123 per cent of GDP), which makes it susceptible to a loss of market confidence.
• Investors are worried Italy the eurozone’s third biggest economy may be next in line to suffer the same ordeals that hit Greece, Portugal and Spain.
• Italy’s economy shrank 0.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2012, underlining a deeper recession.
Italian agents named a range of programmes they work with, including in Canada: Canadian College of English Language, Vancouver, BC; Quest Language Studies, Toronto, BC. In France: Azur Lingua, Antibes. In Germany: Carl Duisberg Centren, various. In Ireland: Alpha College, Dublin; ATC Language & Travel, Bray; Atlantic Language Galway, Galway; Centre of English Studies, Dublin; ISI, Dublin; Language in Group, Dublin. In Malta: GV Malta. In Spain: AIP Language Institute, Valencia; Giralda Center - Spanish House, Seville. In the UK: Bell International, Cambridge; British International Summer School, Brighton; EC, London; ELC, Edinburgh; English in Chester, Chester; English Studio, London; ETC International College, Bournemouth; Frances King School of English, London; Hampstead School of English; Language Studies International, Cambridge; Language Specialists International, Portsmouth; Lila*, Liverpool; Mackenzie School of English, Edinburgh; Meridian English, Plymouth; Regent Edinburgh, Edinburgh; Saint George International, London; Select English, Cambridge; Training Vision UK, Portsmouth; Tti School of English, London; Southbourne School of English, Southbourne; Twin Group, Eastbourne. In the USA: FLS International, Pasadena, CA; University of California San Diego - Extended Studies and Public Programs, San Diego, CA; University of California Los Angeles UCLA - American Language Center, Los Angeles, CA. International: EC; Embassy CES; Kaplan International Colleges (KIC); St Giles.
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in this survey:
SC Inglese; I Viaggi del Professore; Language Data Bank; Godspeed; Obiettivo Lingua; 3 S Soggiorni Studio; Quality Travel Infotraining; Across the World; Atlas; Babel Language Projects Italy; The British School; English in England; Study Abroad Educational Travels by STI.