||IDP and Hobsons keen to recruit students for USA
Australian student placement agency, IDP Education, has announced it will expand its recruitment arm to the United States with a view to start placing international students in American universities in autumn 2010.
The Australian organisation, co-owned by Australian universities and private employment & training company, Seek Ltd plans to address the huge international demand for American university degrees.
“The opportunity is ripe,” said Mark Shay, IDP’s North America Director. “There is almost insatiable demand for an American education, yet the schools are just not investing in what it takes to reach out and really succeed in recruiting in the local market.”
The Nafsa conference, held in Los Angeles earlier this year, provided a platform for IDP to showcase how in-country recruiters could help transform one of the world’s largest higher education markets. The organisation has 70 offices in 25 countries. “American universities, especially private ones, are seeing a real need for foreign students to account for softer demand in their traditional markets. As schools look to cut their overheads, they are looking to vendors like IDP to help deliver students in a cost effective manner,” said Shay.
Meanwhile, Hobsons the international publishing company is also reported to be planning to represent US institutions as a third party recruiter, according to Inside Higher Ed. Having worked in the education sector for over 30 years (mainly delivering marketing and technology solutions, such as USA Education guides in print and online), it hopes to reach students via a network of trained counsellors.
These counsellors, selected by committee members and required to conform to comprehensive standards, will offer advice to potential students under the Hobsons umbrella. They will also have access to ongoing training and support provided by the company.
However, Jeremy Cooper, Hobson’s Managing Director of Integrated Marketing Solutions, claimed that the company was not becoming an agency. “Hobson’s isn’t becoming an agent,” he said in the report. “What Hobsons wants to do is leverage its relationship with the US marketplace and also its experience internationally in order to really professionalise parts of the industry and to provide universities with a method so that they feel comfortable with engaging with agents abroad,” he added.
IDP Chief Executive, Anthony Pollack, noted that more than 624,000 international students studied at an American university or college last year and he predicted with a more “proactive” approach this number could well exceed one million in the next 10 years. “There is a huge international demand for an American university degree but a lack of US investment in overseas recruiting has kept this market from reaching its true potential,” he said.
India proposes regulating education agencies
Following the controversy over violence against Indian students studying in Australia (see Education Travel Magazine, August 2009, page 19), the Indian government is paying closer attention to the issue of the welfare of its students overseas and the practice of education agencies placing them in overseas institutions.
According to the Times of India, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) will table an amendment to the Emigration Act so that all education agencies are required by law to be registered. It also seeks to make agents accountable for the fulfilment of contracts. “We will make it mandatory for education agents to be registered and ensure that they comply by certain requirements,” commented Vayalar Ravi, an MOIA minister. “Students are often misled by unscrupulous agents who make unrealistic promises,” he added.
The MOIA also wants all emigrating students to be registered so that there is a clear idea about the extent of the academic diaspora. The plan being mooted is that agents, governed by an independent statutory authority, will be empowered to provide emigration clearance subject to their online reporting of student travel plans to the Protectorate of Emigrants.
Meanwhile, the Australian government is working with the Indian authorities to ensure problems can be resolved. An Australian government delegation visited India in July and said it would consider affordable housing for students and a commitment to subsidised travel.
Italian agency teams up with university
International Know How, an agency based in Milan, Italy, has teamed up with Link Campus University in Rome to promote summer vacation courses for foreigners.
Summer@Link will focus on Italian culture, art and architecture as well as the Italian language and various study sites will each offer a targeted programme: courses in Rome will focus on Roman architecture; courses in Cittá della Pieve (a municipality in the Perugian province) will specialise in theatre, medieval jousting and acrobatics and those keen on ancient archaeology can spend their study period in Montescaglioso in the south of Italy.
Luciana Spelgatti at the agency said, “It is my great pleasure to be involved in this new venture with Summer@Link. Culture has always generated understanding among people. Our main goal is to give a high percentage of visitors the pleasure to discover the beauty of our country through the arts outside the usual scheme. We have found in Unilink the right partner with whom to share this pleasure,” she said.
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, ABC College of English in Queenstown, New Zealand, nominates Aventure Linguistique from Switzerland. Tricia Lund-Jackson explains this decision.
“Because we work with so many excellent agents it really is difficult to nominate just one. However there is one particular agent who we think deserves special acknowledgement and that is Denis Baker at Aventure Linguistique. Although a relatively new agency, they have shown a level of professionalism, enthusiasm and commitment to excellence that is to be commended. In our experience they offer students an exceptional personalised service and they always go the extra mile to ensure students are well looked after. They are very organised and efficient, and they always provide us with all the correct information and details that we require at the time of enrolment. Denis has already made the effort to visit our school on several occasions and so he has a good insight into what we offer and is able to provide up-to-date information to his clients. He also has an in-depth knowledge of New Zealand as a study destination and a real appreciation of what it has to offer and can advise his clients accordingly.”
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Has demand for executive/business language courses decreased in light of the current economic downturn?
Dr. Josef Steinfels, Dr. Steinfels Sprachreisen GmbH, Germany
“The knowledge of several languages will always be needed not just English. Our actual experiences show that quite a few unemployed people are rather desperate to find a new job without a basic or intermediate knowledge of one or several foreign languages. Quite often they get compensation from their previous employer which they are prepared to invest in a language course abroad the most efficient and quick way to learn a language. They are now a significant part of our actual clientele whom we support with our experience of more than 50 years to restart a new career. The other source of our business is good relations with the main German export companies which we [have helped with] language training of their staff during the last few decades. The only difference is their support to the staff. In the past they offered them free courses and additional paid holidays. Now it is paid holidays only.”
Alena Aichlmanova, Channel Crossings, Czech Republic
“In my opinion, the crisis has in some way affected, at least indirectly, all kinds of business and industry. That also means less demand for language courses. Nowadays, people are much more careful about when they spend their money and what they spend their money on. Executive courses make a big part of our offer. We cooperate with a few large companies, which regularly send their staff to study abroad, so we may take executive courses and business English courses as our favourite. On the other hand, at these times people are much more careful when choosing the school and other services. They want the best quality, as the education is also a business investment, and we have to work hard to meet their needs. I believe the demand has not decreased too much and is doing better now, but it is hard to say.”
Kassiana Pozzatti, Friends in the World, Brazil
“Executive/business courses are not so popular in our culture. Secondly, considering that these courses are offered for those who have an intermediate level or over, many businessmen/businesswomen prefer to take an intensive English language course instead. Thirdly, business courses are more expensive than general English courses and businessmen and women consider [their] English level and the price when booking a course. And lastly, companies should pay for the course, but due to the economic downturn, they may well cancel this investment. So, if you think of these four situations, you will see that demand for executive/business language courses has decreased in light of the current economic downturn.”
On the move
Heather O’Shannessy has recently moved into the position of Principal of Language Studies International (LSI) in Brisbane, Australia, having been the Director of Studies there previously. Mrs O’Shannessy brings with her the experience of working in both Japan and China and aims to continue the high quality of service offered at LSI and introduce some new concepts such as evening classes.
Pete Fiaschi has joined Cambridge Education Group as its new Director in China. Mr Fiaschi was previously Director of the International Office at Newcastle College, transforming its reputation into one of the most popular destinations for international students in the UK. Prior to Newcastle College, he worked for St Andrew’s Sixth Form College in Cambridge and its subsidiary, Select English. He takes immediate responsibility for promoting Cambridge Education Group’s full portfolio in China - CATS Cambridge, CATS Canterbury, Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts, FoundationCampus and its summer and year-round English programmes under the Stafford House brand. Mr Fiaschi will relocate permanently to Beijing in late 2009.
Study Group UK is pleased to announce the appointment of Brendan Webb to the position of UK Sales and Marketing Director. Mr Webb joins Study Group from NCC Education, where he was Strategic Business Director with responsibility for NCC Education’s sales and marketing activities and their regional offices around the world. Mr Webb said, “I am extremely pleased to be part of such a dynamic and exciting organisation and I look forward to working with our valued partners and agents around the globe.”
Roy Immanuel has transferred from his position at LSI Toronto in Canada to LSI Berkeley in the USA, following the retirement of Helen Davaran. Ms Davaran joined the Berkeley school 27 years ago and so her departure has left some big shoes to fill, said Mr Immanuel. Having worked at LSI Toronto since 2001, first as a teacher and then as Director of Studies, Linda Walsh Casas (right), has taken over as Director at LSI Toronto. “Roy initiated some positive changes at LSI Toronto and I hope to continue to contribute to making our students’ experience here as productive and enjoyable as possible,” she said.
Online education marketplace launches
GlobalCampus is one of a new breed of companies aiming to harness the Internet to ensure information about education opportunities is widely available to all. The brainchild of Maurizio de Franciscis who found that his experiences teaching “pro bono” in schools outside of his job in the financial sector led him to realise that all students ultimately asked the same questions GlobalCampus aims to enlist as many education institutions as possible and become the social network for higher education.
The unique selling point of the site is that it features peer reviews posted by students using GlobalCampus about their opinion of their institution and the agency they used. Agencies can become highly rated, which, de Franciscis pointed out, was a good thing, given that good agencies suffered, particularly in some countries, from the poor reputation of unethical operators. Students can also find out about “similar fit” institutions in other countries based upon their search criteria used on the site.
All institutions and agencies can list themselves on the site for free. Students can likewise post up their academic CV and contact institutions directly institutions can also contact suitable candidates directly for a fee. However, on-site ancillary services offered to migrating students will also be a revenue source for the website in the longer term.
The focus is on higher education overseas, so universities and language teaching operations offering pathway programmes can all enlist. Agencies are also included in the domain, as de Franciscis acknowledges that many student visitors of GlobalCampus may consult the site for information and then use an agency anyway.
The site, in English only, has been live for four months and is being finetuned and made more intuitive with the help of early users before a wider launch later in the year. Nevertheless, GlobalCampus has 800 institutions listed and 3,000 visits per day. De Franciscis said, “We are building a universal marketplace for education.”
ISI launches new user-friendly website
InternationalStudentInsurance.com (ISI) the online insurance company specialising in student health and travel insurance has revamped its website in a bid to improve navigation and functionality.
“The new and improved site makes it simpler for international students to choose health and travel insurance that is well-suited to their needs. We went with a fresh, fun look that will be appealing to students around the world,” said Ross Mason, International Director at the company. He added that a new Spanish version, aimed at improving communication links with customers, had also been developed.
Additional site resources include a “student zone” where students can print ID cards and download template letters for visa applications and an insurance blog that provides study abroad students with news and information regarding international travel and insurance advice.
Korea trials its English proficiency test
An English aptitude test developed and certified by the Korean government has been given its first trial run. Four thousand high school juniors at 34 high schools in Seoul, South Korea, were selected by the Education Ministry to sit the test. The aim of the pilot exam was to assess the number of test questions, level of difficulty and whether or not the test could be administered over the Internet.
The State Certified English Aptitude Test, which was unveiled last December, is based on the Japanese Eiken English exam and will assess speaking, writing, listening and reading skills in equal measure. If testing proves successful Korean students can opt to take three different types of test based on levels of proficiency. Level one will be suited to university sophomores, while levels two and three will be geared toward high school students looking to gain university admission.
A second and third series of tests are scheduled to take place later this year with official roll out in 2012.
Accommodation shortage in Australia
Australia’s education export market is worth an estimated AUS$15.5 billion (US$12.4 billion) but according to students, the infrastructure cannot back this up. Government officials have recently said they would consider student housing as a priority (page 8).
Meanwhile, the University of Sydney is being urged by its international students to bring forward plans for a 600-bed house.
In 2008 there were just 2,609 beds on campus for 46,000 students, 9,917 of them hailing from overseas. “Universities don’t necessarily have the infrastructure to support students coming over,” complained former Union President, Ruchir Punjabi.
With a new government that looks to support English New Zealand’s submission regarding part-time work rights for student visa holders, recently re-elected Chairman, Rob McKay, relates this could be the association’s most positive year yet.
Full name: English New Zealand
Year established: 1986
Number of members: 38
Type of members: Full Members and Associates
Association’s main role: to provide advocacy, quality assurance, and marketing services for quality English language providers
Government recognition: Recognised as the peak body representing both private and state English language providers
Code of practice: Yes
Complaints procedure: Yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: Agent workshops are held in nine different countries each year. English New Zealand also participates at the ICEF/Anza workshop each year with three fam trips organised post-Anza.
Rob McKay, Chairman, English New Zealand,
PO Box 2577, Auckland 1140, New Zealand.
Phone number: +64 27 710 2043,
What has your association been up to in the last 12 months?
The last year has been extremely busy and productive. The election of a new business-friendly government has seen us working closely with politicians to improve our immigration policy. Work-rights for our students and a doubling of the permitted study period for Working Holiday visa students have been our main areas of push. The Minister is consulting about [work rights] with a view to implementation this November.
How has the NZ government’s working holiday visa rule change been received?
This is great news and is a very good indicator of a change to student-friendly immigration policies. The extension should be operational by the end of the year.
What tough challenges could member schools come up against in 2009/2010?
Our main worry is on the international front we look forward to the end of the swine flu panic and a recovery in the economies of our main partner countries. Provider-swapping has been a problem with just a few locally based agents [convincing students to change schools]. Rather than being a significant problem, its existence damages NZ’s reputation. Change is now on the way which will end this financial incentive and will help ensure that the original education consultant/student relationship is maintained. This is the effective closing of a loophole created by past over-regulation.
What marketing activities are you planning?
This year, we are putting renewed effort into China and Vietnam. This has been spurred by the new government’s interest in properly supporting our sector. Until now ‘English only’ students had little chance of getting student visas, particularly out of China. We now have assurance that bona fide students will get visas without having further study intentions in NZ. Same for Vietnam. Our strategy as in all our targeted countries is to meet with education consultants and to develop close working relationships in support of their work. We don’t work at retail level in competition with them.
How did you find the second Anza conference in Auckland earlier this year?
Excellent. Despite the global economic crisis, the agent attendance was very pleasing. The event is really well organised and it’s a major plus for us to have an annual Australasian workshop of this calibre.
• Incheon International Airport the largest airport in South Korea narrowly beat Hong Kong International to be named the World’s Best Airport for 2009. The survey conducted by consultancy group Skytrax interviewed 8.6 million airline passengers at more than 190 airports about their experiences from arrival to departure. “It is very clear from the 2009 survey results that Incheon International is setting the current global quality benchmark,” said Edward Plaisted, Chief Executive of Skytrax.
• Just months after it launched Dubai’s first low-cost airline, Flydubai has added a fifth destination to its growing list of services. The carrier, which already services Beirut in the Lebanon, Alexandria in Egypt, Amman in Jordan and Damascus in Syria, now plans to launch a daily flight to Aleppo in Syria. “Flydubai aims to make travel a little less complex, a little less stressful and a little less expensive,” said Flydubai’s CEO, Ghaith Al Ghaith. The carrier expects to service 16 routes by the end of 2009 with plans for a trio of routes to the Indian sub-continent said to be already in the pipeline.
• According to data released by flight search engine, Skyscanner, interest in the UK as a holiday destination is growing among Europeans and Americans. The study, based on Skyscanner visitor searches for flights during summer 2008 to summer 2009, showed a marked increase in the number of Scandinavians planning a holiday to the UK; Swedish enquiries were up 49 per cent, while Norwegian and Danish demand was up 33 per cent and 31 per cent respectively. Searches for flights from Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and Belgium also grew between 20 and 30 per cent, followed by the USA, up by 14 per cent. Barry Smith, Skyscanner Director, said, “The UK has always had a huge amount of appeal and now it’s cheaper for most foreign visitors than it has been for years, with euros, dollars and the krona going further in the UK than they did last summer.”
• Virgin Atlantic and Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) have announced a new code-share agreement that aims to offer customers greater choice and convenience. Passengers travelling with Virgin Atlantic will be able to travel on services operated by ANA, namely their Tokyo to London route, and vice versa. ANA’s Executive Vice President of Alliance & International Affairs, Keisuke Okada, announced that the move was the “logical and long-awaited” next step of an already successful working relationship. “Between us we will offer our customers greater flexibility and choice when making their travel plans, and outstanding products that reflect the best of British and Japanese style.”
• Irish low-cost carrier, Ryanair, is looking into the possibility of increasing flight capacity by removing seats to allow for slimline carriage options. The carrier is reported to be looking into the possibility of vertical seating allowing passengers to stand or sit on something akin to a bar stool during flight! Free flights for passengers willing to stand for more than 90-minutes have also been mooted. A Ryanair spokesman said the carrier had approached aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, to see if such a move was feasible. “If it’s possible, if we can get the IAA to approve it and if it can reduce fares even further we will be doing it,” said the spokesman.
• According to a study conducted by Oxford Economics a leading economic forecasting consultancy firm based in the UK air traffic is set to rise by a staggering 145 per cent between now and 2026. It is estimated six billion passengers will travel by air come 2026 contributing a whopping US$1 trillion to the world’s GDP. The report also predicted that air transport would employ some 8.5 million people.
• Kingfisher Airlines India’s largest carrier has announced it will add eight new routes to its growing list of services. Flights from Mumbai to Singapore and Mumbai to Hong Kong are set to commence later this month, while routes from Delhi to London, Delhi to Bangkok, Delhi to Dubai, Mumbai to Bangkok, Mumbai to Dubai and Mumbai to Colombo have been earmarked for a winter launch.
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