||Despite recent political unrest in the country, the study abroad market in Thailand looks to be holding its own this year, according to our Agency Survey on Thailand.
|• The total number of students placed by the nine agencies in our survey was 1,118
• Individual agencies placed between eight and 360 students on courses per year
• Average business growth was 25 per cent in the last 12 months
• The average length of stay for Thai students was 16.5 weeks
• Overall, 71 per cent of Thai students stayed with host families when studying overseas
• One of the agencies surveyed charged their clients a handling fee of between 6,000TB (US$188) and 10,000TB (US$313)
• In the last 12 months, agencies worked with an average of 27 different providers
||Most popular courses
|1. Australia 36%
2. New Zealand 22%
3. USA 21%
4. UK 13.5%
5. Canada 6%
6. Singapore 1%
||1. Intensive 36%
2. General 31%
3. Academic/exam prep. 12.5%
4. Summer vacation 8.5%
5. Language & work experience 4%
6. Business 3%
7. Junior 2.5%
|Reasons for language travel
||Average percentage agency business
|1. Studies overseas 49%
2. Future work 26%
3. Pleasure 13%
4. Current work 7%
5. Studies at home 5%
||1. Language programmes 74.5%
2. Higher education 22%
3. Work & travel 1%
4. Internships 0.5%
|How do agencies recruit students?
||How do agencies find new business partners?
|1. Word-of-mouth 35%
2. Website 24%
3. E/online marketing 7.5%
3. Mail shots 7.5%
3. Advertising in press 7.5%
6. Seminars to students 6%
7. TV/radio 4%
||1. Internet 25%
2. LTM/ETM 19%
2. Agent workshops 19%
2. Lang. fairs and student expos 19%
5. Other press 0.5%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
English Australia 67%
Languages Canada 33%
Groupement FLE 0%
Italian in Italy 0%
English NZ 67%
English UK 78%
British Council 78%
Quality English 22%
Thai agents reported strong growth among their study abroad businesses over the last 12 months with one agency reporting business growth of 80 per cent and the overall average working out to be 25 per cent. Just one agency reported a decrease in business over the last 12 months and positive growth varied between two and 80 per cent. This paints a favourable picture of the market in Thailand, as growth last year was reported as just 8.3 per cent (see LTM, October 2009, page 24). Individual agencies reported continued strong interest in study abroad programmes from high school and university students and expected business to grow despite immigration changes in some countries making working with certain destinations more problematic.
Language and destination trends
The UK, Australia and the USA were the most popular destinations for Thai students, according to agents although one agency sent students solely to New Zealand and as they worked with a lot of students each year, this figure increased New Zealand’s popularity considerably. Other more surprising destinations used by Thai agents included Switzerland and Singapore, although these two made up a small amount of the overall percentage. Last year a greater number of countries were listed as study destinations for Thai students, including India, Japan and China. English was by far the most popular language to study for Thai students and 97.5 per cent of agency business was spent dealing with this sector of the market. Apart from English, Chinese was chosen as a language to study by a very small proportion of Thai students (0.5 per cent).
Student and course trends
Along with traditional study destinations and languages, Thai students were also highly likely to choose to study on more mainstream programmes too as general and intensive English courses were by far the most popular in the Thai market. Volunteering, internships and work and study programmes were not popular at all with Thai students, the largest group of whom were studying English in order to go on to higher education abroad. Despite this, a surprisingly high (13 per cent) proportion of agency clients were learning a language for pleasure only higher than current work (seven per cent) and further studies at home (five per cent).
The agencies taking part in this survey tended not to work with schools in large numbers of countries possibly because of the large number of students wanting to study in a small number of English language destinations. On average, agents worked with 60 schools in five study destinations, although individual results ranged from 200 schools to just 10 schools. When it came to attracting new students, the majority of agents scored ‘word-of-mouth’ as their most useful marketing tool although for two agencies, the Internet took the top spot.
Most of the agencies in our survey were upbeat when it came to predictions for the future, pointing to the growing economy as stimulating business. One however, believed that the Australian sector would suffer in the next 12 months due to immigration changes. Another said that there were lots of new agencies opening up in Thailand, which would mean greater competition.
• In the first quarter of 2010, the Thai economy expanded at a higher rate than predicted. The main driving forces were exports and private investment, which expanded in line with the global recovery.
• Political unrest during the second quarter of 2010 adversely affected the tourism sector in Thailand as well as, to a lesser degree, private spending. However, the overall impact on the broader economy was limited.
• It is predicted that the quarter on quarter momentum of the Thai economy will slow down during the second half of 2010 as a result of remaining domestic political tensions and softened global growth due to concerns over the public debt issues in Europe.
Source: Bank of Thailand
Thai agents named a range of language programmes they work with, including, in Australia: Cambridge International College, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth; Impact English College, Melbourne, VIC; Kingsway Institute, Sydney, NSW; University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT. In Canada: Burnaby School District 41, Burnaby, BC; Global Village, Vancouver, BC; International Language Schools of Canada, various. In New Zealand: Christchurch College of English, Christchurch; Dominion English Schools, Christchurch and Auckland; Languages International, Auckland and Christchurch; Seafield School of English, Christchurch; Unique New Zealand, Auckland. In Singapore: PSB Academy, Singapore. In Switzerland: Business and Hotel Management School, Lucerne. In the UK: A Plus, Sheffield; Bournemouth Business School International, Bournemouth; King’s College, Oxford, Bournemouth and London; The King’s School, Ely; London Study Centre, London; Regent, Cambridge; University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth. In the USA: ELS, various; FLS International, Glendora, CA; Intrax, various; Zoni Language Centers, New York, NY. Worldwide: Kaplan, various.
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in this survey: Access Abroad Co., Centory Co., The Dean Co., Gateway Inter Study, Intra Mekong Co; King’s Educational Services, NZ Study Thailand Co, SJC Inter Studies, S&K International Education Co.