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October 2005 issue

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Agency Survey
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New Chilean association of agents

Seven agencies in Chile have banded together to form a national agency association, to provide a professional platform in the market. Association member, Javiera Visedo Soriano of New Zealand Global, said a growing market for study abroad had spurred the group to form Asociación de Representantes de Educación e Intercambio Internacional (AREI). "We want to provide a gathering point for [similar] companies in Chile," he said, "and [offer] a commitment to high quality services, through a discipline and ethics committee."


As well as putting study abroad services under the spotlight, AREI is helping organise and promote a student fair, Expo-Inglés, together with an exhibitions company. The fair has the support of the embassies of the UK, USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, who instigated the formation of AREI by initially liaising with each other about the idea of organising a joint study abroad fair.

Rob Woodward at New Zealand Global, who shares the position of AREI Treasurer with Visedo Soriano, explained, "Once the idea of the [joint] expo was accepted, a second meeting was held with local agents for a brainstorming of ideas. In this meeting, the idea that an agent organisation should be created to organise the fair came about." Woodward explained that when the association was first conceived, agent members were keen to stress their quality credentials, adding, "The local embassies have the disposition to train AREI members in visa procedures and rapidly answer any doubts that we may have, which has been very helpful."

At the time of going to press, 40 institutions were confirmed as attending the event to be held later this month in Santiago. It is hoped that 5,000 students will attend the event, with local universities being targeted by the organisers. The members of AREI are Centro Chileno – Canadiense; Latino Australia Education; New Zealand Global; Otec Turismo Joven; Pausa Travel; Study Tours; and Travel & Learn. Matilde Esquivel, General Manager of Otec, is President of the association.


First Ukraine fair sparks second series

Students from across Ukraine attended the first UIEF fair in April – part of the Education & Career fair – which profiled 37 international institutions. Organised by Domar Travel Education, an agency based in the capital, the fair took place over three days and encompassed institutions from many different sectors, from language programmes to vocational training and boarding schools.


Veronika Kustenko of Domar Travel commented, "The visitors stated UIEF gave them an outlook of educational systems in different countries worldwide, but also the opportunity to meet programme managers directly." She said that half of the exhibitors had received bookings during the event.

Ann Harris, Principal of Moira House Girls' School in Eastbourne, UK, testified that she was very busy during the event and that she felt it had been well advertised with the target market. "It was well worth attending," she said.

Following the success of the fair, Domar has decided to organise a five-city fair in November. The events will be focused on higher education – Kustenko estimates 60 per cent of queries are for higher education – while the spring fair will have a wider appeal. However, language learning options will remain in all fairs, noted Kustenko, since foreign language study is now expected from university students in Ukraine.

She said, "Increasing foreign investment, multinational [companies] and government policy also make students realise [they need] knowledge in a variety of areas, plus a knowledge of different languages [and] intercultural communication."


Shane Global

In the August issue of Language Travel Magazine (page 39) we ran a joint advert of schools belonging to Eltasa in South Africa. Shane Global's advert was not included and instead an out-of-date advert relating to Shane Global Village was used. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and would like to point out that Shane Global';s contact details are capetown@shaneglobal.com.


Industry issues - agents speak out

Q How important are language school facilities to your clients?

Margot Haldenby, Languages Abroad, Canada

"Features such as wireless Internet access and computer labs are attractive bonus features that a school may provide. However, these are not as important overall as providing a comfortable, safe and positive learning environment within a school that is centrally located and easily accessible. Increasingly, our students want Internet access at their school. Wireless Internet access in the classroom or accommodation is key for professional students who want to take their laptop with them. Language labs are popular with students who want to improve their language skills rapidly and they want to know if the lab time is built into their total class hours. Many students appreciate a café or snack bar in the school for easy access during breaks and for socialising with other students after class."

Valquiria Mac-Dowell, Improvement, Brazil

"Whether we like it or not it is hard to get rid of comparisons. First of all the school must provide a pleasant environment. Students are far from home and they must feel welcome, not just a number at school. Cleanliness and modern facilities are important for their mood as well. Currently the most important facility and number-one question is about free Internet access. Wi fi is not so important yet but will be shortly. A library and self-study centre is needed for those students doing exam preparation courses. And a recreation room and a canteen at a reasonable price is also required."

Davide Bresquar, MB Scambi Culturali, Italy

"At MB Scambi Culturali we believe that language school facilities can help the student improve his/her learning experience. Although a student that isn';t happy with the lessons won';t be transformed into a happy one just by providing him/her with use of a nice cafeteria, language lab or free Internet access, students can really profit from them. One of the main benefits of such facilities is that language students get the opportunity to spend more time together, to get to know each other and finally to integrate and communicate more."

Ana Manzur, Creatur, Mexico

"It is very important for them. Mexican people really care about facilities, they want their children to be in a nice atmosphere with lots of services. They always ask about the school having free Internet access, a games room, student lounge, cafeteria and gymnasium. They think big as they compare schools with schools in Mexico and they imagine a huge campus with all services and facilities. When we explain that normally ESL schools are small and located in buildings, if that is an issue for them, we recommend [studying] ESL in a university. I would say 60 per cent of our clients ask about facilities in schools and definitely this [factor] will become more and more important. The most important facility for them is the Internet as parents want to be in touch with their children at all times."

Marilisa Fiorani de Almeida, True Way Cursos / Schultz Turismo, Brazil

"Facilities are an important point of sale for international students. One of the indispensable comforts for the student is the free access to the Internet. It is important that schools provide a large number of computers in the study centre and that the language laboratory is equipped with language learning software as well. A good entertainment schedule is also attractive."


Agency of the month

In a series appearing each month in Language Travel Magazine, we ask a different language teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or agent partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.

This month, The English Language Company in Sydney, NSW, Australia nominates Step In in Germany.

David Scott, Managing Director of the school, explains this decision:

"We have been working with Step In for three years and they have consistently been our best agent for a number of reasons. In terms of marketing education products, Step In is one of the most innovative and forward-thinking agencies in the world. We have been invited by them to take part in a number of exciting promotions such as youth-targeted radio campaigns with free courses and work & travel programmes in Australia as prizes.

I have also been very impressed by the staff of Step In. The directors are both very experienced in the world of language travel and youth exchange and all of the staff members who counsel potential students have experienced the products in some way. We find that all of the students who come to us are very satisfied with the information and services provided to them by this agency."


On the move

Jonathan McKeown has moved from Warminster International Study Centre (WISC) in the UK, where he was Director, to take up the post of Assistant Principal at St Stephen';s International School, Khao Yai, Thailand. Mr McKeown remains a firm advocate of international study centres and would like to thank all the agents worldwide with whom he has dealt in the last nine years for their support and cooperation.

MEI~Relsa in Ireland has recently appointed Brian Burns as its new Director. Mr Burns spent three–and-half years working as Marketing Director for International Study Institute (ISI) before joining the association in July. He has exciting plans for his new role, and aims to expand the association and vastly increase awareness of the MEI~Relsa name worldwide, particularly in new and emerging markets.

Peter Hutchinson has been appointed Marketing Executive at ISI Ireland in Dublin, part of the ISI Education Group. The group has schools in Ireland, Australia, Japan and China. Mr Hutchinson has been working at ISI Ireland for the past year and during this time he was assisting Brian Burns, who has now left to work for MEI~Relsa (see above).

The Centre for Applied Linguistics and Languages (CALL) at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, appointed a new Director earlier this year; Margaret Casey has been employed at Griffith University for over 17 years, working in both academic faculties and international education. Ms Casey (left) is also currently Deputy Chairperson of the University English College Association (UECA). The centre has also employed Pamela Humphreys (right) as its new Director of Studies. Ms Humphreys has been teaching and training teachers for 16 years and has worked in many countries including Spain, Italy, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, Singapore and Australia.

The marketing department at Malvern House London in the UK is growing. Stephan Roussounis is now International Marketing Manager (top), with responsibility for developing relationships with agents. He is joined by Katherine Bradley who has returned to Malvern House in the new role of UK Marketing Manager. She said of her return "This is an exciting time for Malvern House and I am looking forward to promoting all of our new courses."


Q&A

Fedele in Spain has been busy liaising with government and working with a new national association in the country. President, Francisco Pérez Navarro, answers our questions.

Full name: Marketing English in Ireland ~ Recognised English Language Schools Association.
Year established: MEI and Relsa merged to form MEI~Relsa in 2000.
Number of members: 56 operators of 125 centres nationwide.
Type of members: Private language schools and language schools based in universities and colleges.
Association's main role: The development and maintenance of quality and standards; Joint marketing ventures; Government liaison; Industry representation, support and sponsorship
Government recognition: Yes
Code of practice: Yes
Complaints procedure: Yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: Yes
Contact details: MEI~Relsa, 1 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin 2, Ireland
Tel: +353 16180910
Fax: +353 16180909
Email: brian.burns@mei.ie
Web: www.mei.ie

What has been happening at MEI~Relsa in the last year?

MEI~Relsa has had a busy and exciting 10 months. Earlier this year a lot of time and effort was devoted to a campaign opposing the government';s proposal to change the law relating to the right to work of non-EU students. This campaign was successful and, as a result, non-EU students on long-term courses of 25 weeks or more will have continued access to the labour market. In April we had the MEI~Relsa workshop, which was a huge success. We have also extensively developed our website, making it more user-friendly and more appealing.

Why should agents attend your workshop?

It is the only workshop that solely promotes Ireland and Irish schools. The MEI~Relsa workshop is small and personal and top-class accommodation and services are provided. Another important feature is the familiarisation trip, which takes place before and after the workshop.

What are MEI~Relsa';s plans for the future?

MEI~Relsa plans to expand significantly over the coming years, and to pro-actively increase membership and sponsorship levels. We will continue to lobby the government in relation to visa issues and would like to see more students from visa-requiring countries in the Middle East and Far East in particular. We will be developing a stronger code of practice in relation to immigration, to show the government that all MEI~Relsa schools abide by the regulations, and we hope this will make the visa situation less problematic. There are plans to expand the scope of the workshop and to perhaps make it a fixed annual event in the agent';s calendar, along with other large workshops like Alphe, English UK and Icef. We also plan to work with Education Ireland [a government body] to help promote Ireland as a study destination. The government is keen to develop the education sector for foreign students, not just in language schools but also in the third-level sector (universities and colleges). MEI~Relsa plans to develop strong links with the university sector.


Grapevine

Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern (centre), was in Galway this summer to preside over the official opening of Galway Business School, which is part of the GCI Group (which also includes Galway Cultural Institute). Celestine Rowland, Director of the GCI Group (left), proudly said the school "forms part of the knowledge economy by providing appropriate third-level opportunities for all Irish and International students alike". It is the only private school of its type in the west of Ireland.

EF toured Europe with a promotional bus this summer that was kitted out with a mini "iLab", so that visitors could have a trial of EF';s latest high-tech language learning technology, the Efekta system. The tour started in Stockholm, Sweden, where the company headquarters is based, and the bus then travelled through France down to southern Spain and Italy, before heading to the UK in time for English UK';s fair in Brighton in August.

Language schools in the UK have been celebrating birthdays this summer. In Cambridge, the venerable Bell International, which started out as the Bell School of Languages, held a big bash to mark its 50th anniversary (right). Elizabeth Bell, who founded the original school with her late husband Frank, spoke at the event as did her children, Nick and Tass. Also making speeches were Richard Rossner, recent Chief Executive and David Green of the British Council. Meanwhile, in London, Malvern House celebrated reaching five years of age with a party at its Piccadilly school centre. Pictured here (left) on the left, Naresh Malhotra and Nick Hobson of Malvern House, with Tony Millns of English UK (far right).

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