Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Are you a member of an agent association in your country? Why/why not?
Marion Andersen, Exis, Denmark
“There’s no relevant association for our industry in Denmark but even if there were, Exis wouldn’t consider joining. Exis has been a member of international associations before, without any positive impact on clients, only extra fees to pay.”
Suad Alhalwachi, Director, Education Zone, United Arab Emirates
“We do not have agent associations in my country. If I could spare the time I would be very happy to join an agent association as I feel that it would bring tremendous strength to the business and would make the universities and the schools think that we are collaborating rather then competing. Associations of any type are good. The main advantage I can see is the knowledge that each member can provide to the other agents, for example, better ways of marketing and cheaper ways of advertising.”
Marcela Amaral, IE Intercambio, Brazil
“Yes, we are [members of an association] and we value this very much. We are a member of Belta. We think [being a member of an organised association] helps so that standards are set and met by all companies that are part of this organisation. It also makes it safer for people to use other agencies. We have been members since 2002 and we decided to join in order to have a label that proves our quality and services. I think schools are happier working with agencies from an association as it gives them more confidence.”
Matilde Aparicio, T&S Director, Travel & Study, Mexico
“Currently, there aren’t any agent associations in Mexico. I would belong tosuch a national organisation if one existed because I believe it would help regulate the industry and (attempt to) control unethical behaviour, such as misinforming students. Belonging to a reputable association would help an agency’s image. In my opinion, a Mexican agent association would offer more credibility topotential clients and help foster more camaraderie among its members. Also, the association could offer a better dialogue between its members andeducational institutions and keep everyone well informed of any new information. However, if it is unknown [or] poorly run it would provide no real benefit. Some [associations] do not enforce their own rules, such as minimum requirements one must meet to become a member, or turn a blind eye when a member breaks the rules.”
Bircem Ors, Easy Education Abroad Counselling and Career Planning, Turkey
“We are not an association member in Turkey yet, since we haven’t met the requirement set that is two years’ experience in the sector. Our company is new in terms of business and has been active only for nine months. We believe there should be two kinds of membership status, one being the ‘mature’ and the other being the ‘newcomer’, as many international organisations have. It is worth being a member of an organised association because you can share opinions, be informed about developments in the sector, have an insight into what your competitors are doing [and] take precautions accordingly. We believe in the positive effect of mutual interaction between people and organisations. This is the way to improve oneself and the business. Schools and education providers also accept partnerships more easily if the offer is coming from an agent who is a member of an association. The cost should not be seen as a drawback when the benefits are taken into consideration.”
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, AIS St Helens in New Zealand nominates Edwise International in India. Anatole Bogatski, Director of Student Services and Market Development, explains:
“Edwise International, based in Mumbai but with a network of offices spread throughout India, is our top agent in India. Ajay Sukhwani and his team perform outstandingly well for our college and they deserve every accolade that they receive. Edwise and AIS St Helens both have a long history in international education. Edwise recently celebrated the opening of a new office in Mumbai and have been in operation for some 20 years. Similarly, AIS St Helens has been educating international students for over 17 years and now is one of New Zealand’s oldest and largest private degree granting institutions with the largest MBA programme in New Zealand.
Edwise understands the excellent student lifestyle we offer, with our student hall of residence, neighbouring golf course, tennis courts and other sports facilities, and especially our diverse programme range, from one year diplomas and graduate diplomas in business tourism and ICT through to the four MBA programmes.”
On the move
Brett Ordonez has been appointed Head of Adult Courses and Corporate Clients at Bell Switzerland. His previous position was Head of Professional Development and Quality Assurance at Hull’s School, International House, in Zurich, Switzerland. Mr Ordonez will be responsible for increasing Bell’s existing client portfolio and developing customised language courses.
Sherri Motohashi has been appointed School Principal of KTC Language Institute in Vancouver, BC, Canada. She has been in the ESL industry since 1988 and has extensive training and experience in all aspects of language education. “I am very honoured to become a member of the KTC family. I know that I will be part of a team that is leading the way in helping students reach their goals,” she said.
Simon Green is the newly appointed School Social Welfare Officer and Marketing Accounts Executive at Waterloo School of English and Waterloo House College in London, UK. In his new post, Mr Green will be dealing with all aspects of student welfare and agent negotiations.
Ann Hawkings has joined Malvern House London in the UK as the Business Development Manager and will be responsible for agent relations in Western Europe, Turkey, Korea and Japan and for the development and promotion of small group ‘Fast Track’ programmes.
Robert Kirby has joined St Giles International as the new Principal of its London Highgate College in the UK. Mr Kirby has over 30 years’ ELT experience, having worked in the UK and overseas for a variety of organisations, including the British Council, international schools, FE colleges and Basil Paterson College in the UK.
Joe Dimech (left) has been appointed as the new Head of HR & Training at EC, which has branches around the world. He will replace Michelle Falzon (right), who will be taking up the position of Assistant General Manager for EC Malta. Prior to joining EC, Mr Dimech was Director of Human Resources at Corinthia Hotels International for the past eight years.
The Maltese language school association, Feltom, is feeling positive about the future for the market and the association. John Dimech, President of Feltom, answers our questions.
Full name: Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta
Year established: 1989
Number of members: 17
Type of members: Full, associate and affiliate member schools
Association’s main role: Feltom is a self-regulating national body which functions to establish and maintain codes of conduct and national standards of service for its members, to maintain a professional identity for its members, and to promote Malta as an English language teaching (ELT) destination
Government recognition: yes
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: yes
Contact details: Louis Grech, Secretary, c/o The Victoria Hotel, Gorg Borg Olivier Street, Sliema, SLM 1807, Malta
Tel: +356 25588501
What has your association been up to in the last 12 months?
The accreditation scheme is in its final phase of the voluntary period, after which it will be mandatory for all Feltom members to go through the accreditation process every three years. Two member schools have already been accredited and six others have applied for voluntary accreditation. Meanwhile another school has applied for membership.
Have you made any headway in improving the visa process for Maltese language schools recently?
The rate of visa refusals in Malta is currently considered to be more favourable than most other ELT destinations. Indeed, there were significant increases in students coming to Malta for English study in 2006 over the previous year from Russia (25 per cent), Ukraine (113 per cent), Kazakhstan (21 per cent) and Turkey (23 per cent). The Maltese government signed agreements last August and June with Austria and Italy respectively whereby in several countries where Malta does not have an Embassy or a career Consular Office, visa applications for Malta can be handled by the Austrian or Italian Consular Offices.
What main challenges are your members currently facing when it comes to recruiting new students?
Partly thanks to the Spanish government, who have offered grants to Spanish students wanting to improve their English in Malta this summer, the market is likely to see a significant increase again this year. Schools would like to make a mark on the Asian (China and Korea) and South American (Brazil, Argentina and Colombia) markets, as students coming from these continents are more likely to do so in the winter and surrounding months.
What marketing activities are you planning for the near future?
Feltom will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2009 and is currently contemplating organising an agents’ workshop or an international conference to mark the occasion.
The UK’s new Minister for Tourism, Margaret Hodge, joined over 100 travel industry representatives at the British Educational Travel Association’s Summer Reception earlier this year. At the event, Beta Chairman, Dick Porter, presented the minister with the first draft copy of the association’s manifesto.
This summer saw the launch of Bell’s newest language and education initiative Bell Bedgebury International School and Language Centre. Over 100 guests from all over the world joined Bell staff, at the estate in Kent, UK. The Bedgebury estate is home to both an International School for 12-to-17 year olds and a language centre for adults. Here at the opening, David Pottinger, Bell’s Chief Executive, and Bruce McGowen, Principle of Bell Bedgebury, enjoy the school’s impressive grounds.
While probably not the first couple to meet through their work, Scott Wade, Director of Hothouse Media in the UK, and Vanessa Milner of Milner School of English in Australia and the UK, owe their recent wedding in London to a chance encounter at a barbeque held at the house of the Editor of Language Travel Magazine herself!