||PGIC Vancouver acquired by Loyalist Group
The Loyalist Group Ltd, an education group specialising in ESL training and trading as the McKinsey Education Group, has completed the acquisition of Pacific Group International College (PGIC) in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The purchase includes PGIC Career College and PGIC Holdings and adds to the Loyalist Group’s previous acquisitions of Universal College of Language in Vancouver, BC and McKinsey International College in Toronto, ON.
A Loyalist Group press release confirmed a purchase price of CAN$200,000 (US$203,000) initial payment, a CAN$50,000 (US$51,000) incentive bonus if the acquired companies maintain a positive cash flow for three consecutive months in the first year, and 4,531,250 common shares in the Loyalist Group. PGIC Vancouver has operated for 17 years, is a member of Languages Canada and is Vancouver’s only public test centre for the Toeic test.
“The acquisition of PGIC Vancouver and PGIC Career College will mark Loyalist’s third accretive acquisition in 2011, emphasising our geographical expansion to four locations across Canada,” said Andrew Ryu, Loyalist Group CEO. “With three locations in Vancouver and one in Toronto, Loyalist is firmly securing its presence in the ESL sector,” he added.
EduSA holds first teacher training day
Education South Africa (EduSA) language schools joined forces to offer the first official training day for its teachers, a culmination of research, planning and industry support and a precursor to the EFL Teacher’s Conference planned for 2012.
The training day, held at EC Cape Town, was attended by 84 teachers along with 16 Directors of Studies and Assistant Directors of Studies from EduSA’s member schools. Teachers were given the opportunity to meet, network and choose three training sessions given by EFL professionals from a range of electives, including technology in the classroom and working with authentic texts. Craig Leith, Chairperson of EduSA, said, “The training day showed how far EduSA has come since its inception: just a few years ago such collaboration between schools was considered unthinkable. And yet a very successful day was planned and effected by the Directors of Study.”
The day was also part of an initiative to involve publishers in South Africa’s EFL industry. Major contributions came from Pearson Education, while Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press were also supporting sponsors of the event.
English buddy system in the UK
The Speak English Buddy System (Sebs) has launched in the UK with a concept of placing adult learners for one-to-one immersion sessions with professional partners with similar backgrounds and interests, and focusing on conversational English and pronunciation skills.
Students will spend 6.5 hours a day with their buddies. Accommodation will be provided at top grade hotels in Sussex, with all meals and a full-day excursion with the buddy included. Courses are available year-round.
“Moving beyond the classroom into a real environment stimulates all of the senses more than textbooks ever could,” said Lynne Hunter, Sebs Director.
New joint course in Western Australia
Language Links Education and Training College in Perth, WA and and West Coast International College of English in Bunbury, WA, have joined forces to offer a City and Country programme.
“The programme will allow students to gain a fuller understanding of Australian culture in general and be able to appreciate how the Australian lifestlye differs between city and country localities,” said West Coast International College Director of Studies, Jenny Byatt. Students will expand their social networks, have access to different job opportunities, see cityscapes and farmland and fit sightseeing across a broader area into their time, she added.
Five packages will be available, ranging from 10 weeks to 36 weeks in duration.
Advisor of the month
In a series appearing each month in Study 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 ABC Palazzo Malvisi in Italy nominates Sprachen.ch in Switzerland. Monica Fabianelli, Director of the school, explains this decision.
“ABC Palazzo Malvisi Firenze has been working with Sprachen.ch since they opened in Zurich in October 2005. Sprachen.ch works on a highly sophisticated service level and the students we receive are well prepared. Furthermore, I much appreciate that Patricia, the manager of Sprachen.ch, and I can discuss anything in a very amicable way as the friends we have become over the years and it’s great to see that our partner agency is seeing our wonderful industry as what it really is: a true people business! Not only are they very swift with responses, Patricia’s enthusiastic and hearty emails are unique. Her commitment is huge and as a consequence Sprachen.ch can count on excellent word-of-mouth recommendations from the countless clients they have supported. Even though they are dealing with high student numbers, they are always happy to go the extra mile in order to make happy students happier. We recommend Sprachen.ch because we consider them a benchmark in terms of reliability and cutting edge when it comes to student counselling with a big portion of human touch.”
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. How much of your agency business are repeat bookings?
Elinor Zucchet, Language School Worldwide, Spain
“Each year it is extremely satisfying to see familiar names in the bookings we receive. We have a tracking system estimating that around five per cent of our clients are repeaters, but it is probably a bit more than that as we don’t always know that they repeat. Also, there is a lot of referral between families and friends (some families can easily book seven or eight courses with us in three-to-four years!). We also send them a feedback survey when they come back, and if they leave a comment we grant them with a C50 ($US71) discount valid on their next course. Every month, our students receive a newsletter with the current special offers. We get most of the bookings through the Internet, which usually creates a cost (Google ads, etc) but when a former student rebooks directly there is no marketing cost for us. Some of them go every year to the same school, others change schools/destination and trust us on the choice. It is also very rewarding for agents who love to see their students enrolling year after year, it creates a real relationship between the agent and the student. Happy students are our best publicity!”
Anastassia Romanenko, Insight-Lingua, Russia
“Repeat bookings are very important and very common in our business. Sometimes we compare ourselves with family doctors same clients come to us every year, we know everything about their family, children, preferences, etc. In the Russian market, education abroad is something that not everyone can afford, and once you do a good job with a client, they trust you and prefer not to shop around. Our agency sends large numbers of students and we sell courses not only to direct clients, but also via our subagents (mainly travel agencies) throughout the whole country. We can boast not only having quite a lot of repeat bookings from direct clients, but also a lot of clients that return to our subagents to book another programme with us. Within the last 12 months about 35 per cent of our direct clients were repeat bookings, plus about 11 per cent this year are new clients that came on recommendation of our other customers. We do offer discounts to our regular clients and we make sure they come back by offering them a personalised approach.”
Patricia Degani Panzetti, Converse Intercambio, Brazil
“From July 2010 through to July 2011, 35.7 per cent of my clients booked another language course with me, which gives me the confidence of doing my business in the way that I believe. I work hard to offer them not only great schools but a whole package, including accommodation that really gives them comfort, security and good locations. My partners know that I’ll do everything for my student. I offer them total commitment that they will not be alone while in another country.”
Khrystyna Tuchkivska, Epoch of International Education, Ukraine
“On average, about 20 per cent are our regular customers. Most of them are parents who send their children to camps for the holidays and already trust us to organise leisure time for their children. About 10 per cent of our clients who come to us again are students who booked a language course and then decide to go to university. They have seen the quality of our work and trust in our organisation. Also, we always encourage our customers with discounts. Repeat bookings are important for us. It is confirmation of the quality of our services, their confidence in us, and that is the main aim of our work.”
On the move
Owen Sevasta has recently joined inlingua Malta in the post of Director of Studies. After working in the UK as a senior teacher and in Italy as a freelancer specialising in ESP and Business English, he is thrilled about this new opportunity to join such a renowned franchise in his native country. Mr Sevasta holds a Delta qualification and is backed by eight years experience in the EFL industry.
José Mendez, School Director of Academia Columbus in Mexico, has been promoted to Head or Operations of all schools in the Academia Columbus portfolio in Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico. Mr Mendez has been director of the Mexico centre for three years and has also worked at schools in the US and Spain.
TUI Education has appointed Fergus Dick as group Financial Director to oversee financial operations for EAC, Hampstead School of English, Manchester School of English and English Language Centre York. Reporting directly to language portfolio Managing Director, Andrew Fisher, Mr Dick will have direct responsibility for the financial performance of the four businesses and will ensure systems and processes are established to cope with the ever growing demand.
Bell International in the UK welcomes Tony Anderson as interim Director of Sales and Marketing. Mr Anderson previously worked for a number of well-known international companies including Thomas Cook and BA and was appointed the first Sales and Marketing Director of easyJet. He went on to become Group Marketing Director for the easyGroup. Mr Anderson has held senior marketing positions at the Internet bank Egg, TNS PLC and The Children’s Mutual.
Janey Futerill has recently been appointed Principal of the Regent Group’s flagship school in London. Ms Futerill has had a long career in the EFL sector as teacher and Director of Studies for International House in Spain and Egypt. She also worked for the British Council in Venezuela. “Regent London is a wonderful school with the best location...I hope to build on its success and attract even more bright, ambitious students,” she said.
New international work experience programmes
NSTS Malta, a professional organisation dedicated to student and youth travel, has launched new Work Placement, Internship and Au Pairing programmes, designed to enhance the personal and professional development of Maltese and international students.
As well as valuable language practice, the NSTS Work Placement programme provides participants with skills and contacts in a wide range of industries, including marketing, hospitality, IT and real estate, while the Internship programme offers the chance of gaining hands-on knowledge of a chosen profession in a different corporate culture. The Au Pair programme gives an opportunity to learn within a family environment, with accommodation, food and pocket money provided. Outstanding candidates will be considered for nomination in the Au Pair of the Year Awards.
A press release from NSTS stated, “Through our Work Placements, Internships, and Au Pairs programmes, we challenge participants into experiencing a fresh and different environment and discover a country from within.” Popular destinations are the UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Italy and China, while overseas students are also welcomed to Malta on the Work Placement and Internship programmes. Participants will follow an intensive training and language course to prepare them for their experience.
Tiffany Bonavia, NSTS Work Placement & Internship Coordinator, Malta, said, “After coming back from my own work and study experience that took me to various places around the world, I wasn’t ready to pack it all up and so these similar programmes are very dear to me both personally and professionally I can recommend them to anyone and I’ve got my own experience to match it.”
GHS moves accommodation
The student accommodation at Good Hope Studies in Cape Town, South Africa, has moved to a newly refurbished location in the Rondebosch suburb. The new house offers a private swimming pool, larger and separate lounge and dining rooms, a reception/chill out area and four bathrooms. The former student house was on the site of the original school and had been converted into accommodation in 2005.
Work and Travel
Harper Adams accredits VSO training
Volunteers with VSO, the UK-based international development charity, will now head abroad with a qualification accredited by Harper Adams University College in the UK. Professional volunteers with experience in fields such as education, health, business and IT will be awarded the University College Foundation Degree Certificate in Professional Skills for International Development, after completion of pre-departure training.
Harper Adams will also accredit the work of 18-to-22 year olds on the Global Xchange Programme, where volunteers will gain a Foundation Certificate through work placement, structured training and community action days.
Emily Lomax, Volunteer Journey Manager at VSO, said, “Accreditation of volunteer training has been an important step for VSO, in both reflecting the quality of the blended learning programme we already provide and in being able to offer our volunteers a tangible qualification to benefit their future prospects. The response from volunteers so far has been really enthusiastic and we’re looking forward to continued work with Harper Adams in the future.”
CIBT unveils Global Learning Network in Beijing
CIBT Education Group recently hosted a conference in Beijing to introduce its Global Learning Network (GLN) to the Chinese market. Through broadcasting studios based in Vancouver and Beijing, GLN will provide real-time lessons across Asia, with each studio able to connect to up to five classrooms. Students will gather at CIBT partner schools and will be able to interact with the native English-speaking teacher in the studio, as well as an in-class tutor.
Toby Chu, Chief Executive Officer of CIBT, explained, “Our conference in Beijing drew a full house of participants including government officials, academic partners and business school owners. This level of interest demonstrates Asia’s great demand for a new medium to deliver western education that is less costly than the traditional face-to-face delivery in a classroom and higher quality than online, self-study delivery where Asian students find it less desirable to learn in a disconnected environment.”
GLN has been developed over a three year process and will begin with lessons in ESL, Overseas Studies, and Hospitality and Tourism Management. Students who complete the course will graduate with Canadian certificates and will have further study opportunities within CIBT’s global network of schools, colleges and universities.
This month we talk to Craig Leith, Education South Africa Chairman, about growing their membership and being proactive with marketing activities.
Full name: Education South Africa
Year established: 2003 (Eltasa)
Number of members: 17
Type of members: English language schools in SA. Full and associate memberships are available
Association’s main role: To encourage and maintain high levels of professionalism and quality in every aspect of the industry and to market South Africa as an EFL destination
Government recognition: no
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: yes
PO Box 51120
Cape Town 8002
T: +27 (0)214190494
F: +27 (0)214190725
What has your association been up to recently?
Our membership has grown from nine to 17 and although still small compared with other countries, that represents a growth of almost 90 per cent in one year. Last year EduSA was well represented at the Belta agent fair in Brazil and this year we have nine members attending ICEF in Berlin. Both of these have been funded by the national Department of Trade and Industry, due to work and lobbying done by the larger association to which EduSA belongs, SAYTC (South African Youth and Travel Confederation). In July this year, EduSA hosted the first combined teacher-training day (see page 8).
What challenges could schools/the export education sector in South Africa face in 2012?
I think the two biggest challenges we face are currency fluctuations the rand is relatively strong at the moment, compared to a weaker dollar, which makes other destinations seem more attractive economically and trying to work out how to get more students to travel to South Africa. While the world cup was obviously a huge success from a soccer/FIFA point of view, disappointingly there has been virtually no growth in the EFL industry as a result.
New South African grouping, SACEG, has identified that tertiary education is growing in popularity in SA. Can you see member schools introducing pathway or academic prep courses that aim to prepare overseas students for tertiary study in the country?
I have not heard of this group but I am aware that there are certain markets that are very keen to come and study at tertiary level in SA. However, these numbers are still extremely low so I can’t see that schools will introduce specific university preparation courses any time soon. Also, in most cases the students wanting to do this are already at postgraduate level, so their courses could be three, six or 12 months only, and these students are not likely first to want to do a language course. It’s more likely that we would continue to offer general English classes in preparation for studying in English at a South African university.
What marketing activities are you planning?
In June this year we hosted another Brazilian fam trip with a group of Belta agents, which was very successful. The other main activity coming up this year is our attendance at the ICEF workshop in Berlin.
• Hainan Airlines is expanding its operations in Asia and Europe. The Chinese carrier has instigated the first direct link between Shenzhen and Mumbai, with a twice-weekly flight, capitalising on a rapidly expanding China to India market that increased by 21.4 per cent in 2010. Meanwhile, a four times a week service, to be launched this month, will fly from Beijing to Bangkok and then on to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Additionally, Hainan is planning a twice-weekly service from Shanghai Pu Dong to Madrid. Around 484,000 passengers travelled between Spain and China last year, yet only 5.9 per cent flew direct.
• Several budget airlines have announced new services out of the UK. Monarch Airlines will be offering 11 weekly flights between London Gatwick and Barcelona. British Midland International (Bmi) has commenced daily flights from London Heathrow to Nice, increasing to twice daily later in the year, and will be offering twice weekly services from Heathrow to Agadir in Morocco. Bmi has also increased its flights to Marrakech and Casablanca to five times a week. Meanwhile, Ryanair has annoucned the opening of a Manchester base, which will provide services to 26 routes by the summer of 2012, including major destinations such as Madrid, Rome, Frankfurt and Oslo.
• ANA, the Japanese carrier, and budget airline, AirAsia, are teaming up to form the first low-cost carrier to be based at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport. AirAsia Japan will commence operations in August 2012 and serve both international and domestic routes. ANA has been seeking opportunities to launch a low-cost business and considered that partnering with an established carrier was the most advantageous option, while AirAsia has been seeking a partner with Japanese market influence. Narita Airport is looking to increase capacity with the opening of a new terminal and is expected to attract several more budget airlines.
• An American man has been rewarded for living his life on a plane. Tom Stuker from Bloomingdale, Illinois, has completed 10 million miles in the air and will be honoured with his name being painted on the side of a Boeing 747 jet. He became the first United Airlines frequent flier to reach the 10 million mark and since joining United’s mileage programme in 1982 he has undertaken 5,962 flights, including journeys to all 50 US states, 200 round trips to Australia, and on three occasions has spent five consecutive days airborne. “I love the solace and peacefulness at 40,000 feet,” said Stuker.
• British Airways is increasing its London Heathrow-Riyadh flights to daily services from the end of this month due to soaring demand, meaning that the carrier will be offering 12 weekly flights between Saudi Arabia and London this winter. Paolo de Renzis, British Airways Regional Commercial Manager, Middle East, said, “In response to this continuously growing demand, we quickly realised that the additional one flight a week...wasn’t going to be sufficient.”
• Jetstar is commencing a new daily Melbourne-Singapore-Beijing service from next month, which will connect to Jetstar’s existing Melbourne-Singapore service, with a stopover on both legs possible. The Australian carrier has added flights to Haikou, Shantou, Guilin, Hangzhou and Ningbo to its China portfolio in recent months. Jetstar Group CEO, Bruce Buchanan, said, “Beijing represents a critical step in the growth of our brand in China and the continued rollout of our Pan-Asian strategy.” Meanwhile, Korean Air has announced additional services between Seoul and Sydney. The route will see 10 flights per week from December.
• The UK-based price comparison website, Cheapflights.co.uk, has produced a table outlining airlines’ use of social media and e-tools. The table highlights ten of the most popular, mostly European, airlines and details their use of services such as mobile check-in, mobile websites, apps, Facebook and Twitter. The website considers that KLM is the best performer among these for the accessibility of its online services and the availability of apps. Nadine Hallak, Travel Expert for Cheapflights.co.uk, said, “In a world where the cheapest tickets sell out quickly, the ability to search for and book flights anytime from anywhere is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity. In addition to that, connecting with customers in a social space facilitates more direct contact and builds trust and reputation.”
Please see the digital issue of Study Travel Magazine for the Grapevine section