Novemebr 2015 issue

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New Zealand picks up

After a few years of decline, language schools in New Zealand witnessed business picking up in 2014, with initial results for 2015 also looking promising. Bethan Norris finds out more..

The last 12 months have been positive for English language providers in New Zealand, with many reporting good growth in student numbers due to policy changes and favourable currency fluctuations. Terry Leotta, Head of the English Language Centre at Auckland Institute of Studies (AIS) says, “The centre has seen a rise in student numbers and weeks, specifically from South America and Japan. We attribute this increase to the recent marketing efforts made by Education New Zealand and better policy settings around work rights.”

The biggest influence on the inbound language travel industry in New Zealand in recent years has been a change to government policy in January 2014 allowing English language students on courses of 14 weeks and longer to be eligible to work part time while they are studying (see STM, December 2013, page 7). According to industry insiders (see box page 62), this policy change has proved to be very beneficial in attracting greater numbers of international students to language schools in the country, particularly from certain key student provider markets such as countries in Latin America.

Sahinde Pala, Marketing Manager at Language Studies International (LSI) in Auckland, says, “In the past 12 months our Colombian numbers have increased significantly from what they were, which is reflected in our nationality mix now. We are lucky to have a healthy mix of nationalities at any one time at LSI Auckland, with over 25 nationalities in the school.” She adds, “I would say that the regional percentages in the school are more or less the same, but the main nationality from these regions has changed e.g. from South America, Brazil used to be our top nationality, but now it is the Colombians.”

Miles Stewart, Co-Director at New Zealand Language Centres (NZLC), with schools in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, says that overall their student numbers have increased this year. “This is in part due to the new immigration visa policy that came into force last year as well as initiatives such as our new Ielts department and our Business English courses,” he says. “Latin America is the fastest growing provider region and this has probably been the biggest change to our mix of nationalities. Our student nationality mix continues to evolve thanks to our international marketing and reputation.”

Overall, the English language sector in New Zealand increased in 2014 with full-year figures released by Education New Zealand recording a five per cent jump in language student numbers over the previous year to 20,548. According to the statistics, the largest growth was experienced by the Thai (up by 48 per cent) and the Chinese (up by 10 per cent) student markets, although the top five nationalities remained as Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Saudi Arabian and Thai. Additionally, first trimester enrolment data produced by English New Zealand for the first three months of 2015 showed that student numbers and weeks at English New Zealand member schools increased by 14 per cent (see STM, August 2015, page 10) indicating that the market is likely to improve further in 2015.

As well as part-time work rights, many language students are attracted to schools in New Zealand due to their increased offering of academic and business English courses that create a distinct pathway to further education in the country and elsewhere. Terry at AIS says, “Our English for Academic Purposes pathway course continues to attract large numbers of students intending to go on to postgraduate studies in business, travel & tourism, hospitality and IT.” He continues, “One pleasing trend is the growth of interest in our CertTESOL course as the number of students coming to New Zealand increases and creates more employment opportunities for our graduates.”

Sahinde also notes that currency fluctuations have made it more reasonable for international students to come to New Zealand for longer term courses. “Our numbers have been fairly steady compared to last year – numbers from certain markets have decreased, but have been made up by students from other markets,” she says. “It has become harder for some nationalities to travel due to the economic climate, but with the dropping dollar, New Zealand is quite an affordable destination when looking at long-term courses now. More students are enrolling on long-term programmes which give them the flexibility to improve their general English level, try business English or prepare for an international exam.”

With New Zealand located so far away from many parts of the world, the trend towards offering more long-term courses with a serious job-related or academic purpose to them is surely a good move for language schools in the country. Miles at NZLC says that he has noticed an increase in interest for their business English courses recently and puts this down to the school offering two levels of business course (upper and intermediate) and also due to the fact that language students can now work while studying in New Zealand.

“NZLC was well established in the Latin American market even before the student visa/work rights changes. And we get proportionally more Latin American students than many other schools,” he says. “There is strong demand for Business English back in their home countries which is reflected in the demand for our courses.”

As well as reaping the benefits of favourable market conditions that are largely beyond an individual’s control, language schools in New Zealand also report the value of staying ahead of the game when it comes to marketing.

Miles says of his school, “As a young company, we have learned to be fast adopters of new ideas and to respond to business challenges and feedback quickly, innovatively and with flexibility. We have learned to embrace change as a means of constantly improving our understanding of the value of what we offer through ongoing data collection and the significant improvements and changes we have made in direct response to this feedback from our students and other stakeholders.” He continues, “We increasingly promote our language schools though social media and can report a 97 per cent satisfaction rate among our students. Being an NZQA Category 1 school and the winner of the STM Star Language School Southern Hemisphere award in 2014 has unboubtedly led to many opportunities for us in the marketplace.”

Sahinde also reports that their school is constantly looking to develop its marketing activities into new areas, while at the same time supporting the continued success of other more established recruitment practices. “Our international marketing team is always looking at innovative ways to catch the attention of agents and students alike,” she explains, adding, “Although we are looking at more web-based activities, our main source of students is still very much through our trusted agents.” bethan@studytravel.network

Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie, Chairman of English New Zealand, talks about how currency changes have affected the English teaching market in New Zealand and what the outlook is for the future.

“After four years of decline, student numbers at English New Zealand schools rose by seven per cent in the 2014 calendar year. Most of the top 10 provider countries increased their student numbers, with Thailand posting a spectacular 42 per cent increase, and Brazil and Colombia also showing substantial growth. Although Japan was flat in terms of student numbers, it still produces 25 per cent of our total business.

One of the main drivers behind the growth is New Zealand Immigration’s recent granting of part-time work rights to language students studying at quality language schools; this particularly helped growth in student numbers from Latin American countries. English New Zealand members represent 82 per cent of New Zealand’s language school market, and our share rises each year.

For the last three years, including 2014, the New Zealand dollar has been relatively high, sitting on over US$0.80 for most of the time (it was US$0.40 in 2001), and yet we achieved growth in the language study business last year. Now it has dropped significantly (US$0.63 at September 1), which leads us to hope that 2015 will be an even better year for our members. In ball-park figures, a European student studying overseas for two months will find a language course and flight to New Zealand as cheap as going to the UK, and students staying for three months or longer will actually make a saving by coming to New Zealand.

We are actively engaged with our quality assurance body, New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), over better defining our members’ courses in the future, as they are determined to describe them as either qualifications or training schemes, whereas they are actually neither: they are language courses! We are also attempting to guide the New Zealand Ministry of Education towards better and more meaningful data collection. Our relationship with Immigration New Zealand is healthy and improving, and we are pleased to acknowledge their recent work on developing pathway visas.”

New Zealand language schools’ marketing budget by region (overall %)

Asia 57%
Latin America 14%
Western Europe 9%
C&E Europe 7%
Middle East 5%
Africa 4%
Australasia 3%
North America 1%

9 weeks Overall average length of stay
22 hours Average language tuition per week

Average cost of a one-month course, excluding accommodation: NZ$1,437

Average cost of residential accommodation per week: NZ$231

Average cost of host family accommodation per week: NZ$239

Top nationalities in New Zealand by student weeks, 2014


Japanese 19.6%
Saudi 11.2%
Thai 9.4%
Korean 8.7%
Brazilian 5.5%
Swiss 4.4%
French 4.1%
Taiwanese 3.9%
German 3.5%

22.9% is the average commission paid on a language course

None of the institutions in our survey paid commission on accommodation

Student numbers by age range

Means of recruiting international students in New Zealand, 2014

8-11 1%
12-15 9%
16-18 14%
19-24 44%
25-30 19%
31-50 10.5%
50+ 2.5%

Agents 79%
Internet  8%
Local bookings 6%   
Other means 7% 


Marketing spend by sector

Agency costs 49%
Commission 44%
Incentives 2%
Agency brochures 3%

Travel costs 36%
Agent workshops 9%
Student exhibitions 3%
Agency visits 5.5%
Entertainment 4%
Marketing trips 14.5%

Publicity costs 15%
Magazine for agents 1%
Magazine for students 2%
Own brochures 8%
Internet 4%

Key points in ST Magazine Status Survey New Zealand 2014

Number of participating organisations: 17

Total number of students at the organisations in 2014: 11,670

Total number of student weeks in 2014, estimated: 101,529

Participating schools:
Auckland English Academy, CCEL Auckland and Christchurch, CPIT, Dominion English Schools, Dynaspeak, International College of Auckland, Kavanagh College, Kiwi English Academy, Languages International, Language Schools NZ Queenstown, Language Studies International, NZLC, Rotorua English Language Academy, The Campbell Institute, Unique New Zealand, University of Otago Language Centre.

Ask the students – view from the classroom

189 students from 23 different countries took part in our survey of language schools in New Zealand.

Students' region of origin Reasons for learning English

Asia 63%
Latin America 15%
Western Europe 14%
Middle East 6%
Central and Eastern Europe 2%

Current or future work 51%
Further studies in another English-speaking country 14%
Further studies in New Zealand 14%
For pleasure only 12%
University/college studies at home 9%

How did students find out about your school

Recommended by an agent 58%
Recommended by a friend/relative 25%
On the internet 14%
Advertised 3%

The average age was 20 years
The average class size was 11 students
63 per cent of respondents were from Asia
15 per cent of respondents were from Latin America
76 per cent of respondents booked their course through an agency
96 per cent of respondents would recommend their school
48 per cent of respondents were staying in homestay accommodation
51 per cent of respondents were learning English for current or future work purposes
38 per cent of respondents found it quite easy or very easy to practise their English with local people
32 per cent of students had been on a previous study abroad trip
54 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: ABC College of English, Alpha Educational Institute, Aspiring Language Institute, Auckland Institute of Studies, CPIT, Coromandel Outdoor Language Centre, Edenz Colleges, English Advantage Education Centre, Languages International, Mount Maunganui Language Centre, New Horizon College of English, New Zealand Language Centres.
Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

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







EF International Language Centers  
ELS Language Centers  
ILSC International Language Schools  
Kings Education  
TLG - The Language Gallery  

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

CERAN Lingua International  

ELSAC - English Language Schools Association of Cyprus  

ABLS - Accreditation Body for Language Services  
English Language Centre Brighton  
Heart of England Language School  
LAL Language Centres  
Manchester Language School  
New College Group  
Tellus Group  

Ecole de Tersac  
France Langue  
Riviera French Institute  

MEI Ireland  

Intercultural Institute of
Sakura House  

IELS - Institute of English Language Studies  
Magister Academy  

CIAL - Centro de Linguas  

Kilgraston Language and Activities Centre  

Estudio Sampere  

Bridge Education Group  
Summer Study Programs  
Trine University  
University of California San Diego  


HSI - High Schools International  

Braemar College  
Calgary Board of Education  
Eastern Townships School Board  
Edmonton Catholic School District  
Edmonton Public Schools  
English Montreal School Board  
Greater Victoria School District #61  
Kootenay Lake School District  
Langley School District #35  
Louis Riel School Division  
Niagara Catholic District School Board  
Ottawa Carlton District School Board  
Pembina Trails School Division  
Simcoe County District School Board  
St James - Assiniboia School Division  
Vancouver School Board  
Waterloo Catholic District SB  

Carlsbad International School  

Queen Ethelburga's College  

The King's Hospital  

Menaul School  


Hult International Business School  

Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology  

Istanbul Aydin University  

Bridge Education Group  
Summer Study Programs  
Trine University  
University of California San Diego  
University of Virginia  


Campus Living Villages  
Dr. Walter GmbH  

ILAC - International Language Academy of Canada  

Cambridge English  
IALC International  
Quality English  

Irish Host family  

Sakura House  

Feltom Malta  

Idealist Education Consultancy  

ESL Townhouse  


Hult International Business School  

Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology  

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