Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. In your opinion, can world sporting events have a bearing on student destination choice, for example South Africa for the recent Fifa World Cup?
Wojtek Lapacz, BTA Kompas, Poland
“Sports and languages go together well at BTA Kompas! But South Africa is not our most wanted destination in 2010. There are three main reasons why not. First of all this destination is really far away compared with our prime destinations. It is still not very known for language courses and the last reason is very simple: the Polish football team did not qualify for the finals! As this is the first year for BTA Kompas on the language market there’s a growing demand for courses in sports destinations. We are also looking forward to 2012 and the summer Olympics in London I am sure that a huge stream of students would like to visit London for sports and language study then!”
Henri Joel Nkuepo
Education Agent, South Africa
“I have sent four clients to Bay Language Institute in Cape Town since January. The courses that they requested to do were General English for education purposes. As to whether world sporting events have a bearing on student destination choice, my answer is debatable. In fact, students rather look for universities with international standards and world sporting events do not have great impact on choice. However, many students travel before to make sure that they are there when the event starts. But the percentage is low. The reality shows that most of the people who travel for the event are rather tourists.”
Antonio Bacelar Jr, Via Mundo Intercambio Turismo, Brazil
“Although we have been promoting South Africa for over three years now we only got to send our first applicants this year. Although we had a representative from South Africa visiting, and we did some presentations about the attractions of this interesting and fascinating destination, I believe our students would rather go to a place where they would not face some similar situations to Brazil! Nevertheless, Brazilians have a passion for football, and for sure there is no better attraction than the World Cup. I believed that after sending the first ones, [we would] have a flow to this country, once [they saw] how much [there is] to see and to fascinate them. Some of our partner schools offered discounts and special prices for this period, which also helped with our first enrolments.”
Ana Cecilia García, G.R. Academic Exchange Programs, Venezuela
“South Africa is not a very popular destination for Venezuelans and since the World Cup has been held there we have taken advantage of this and promoted a lot more. We have received a few promotions on English courses in South Africa and we’ll keep on trying to encourage our students on this fabulous destination and we hope to have some students enrol this year. One of the promotions we have received was from a language school in Cape Town; it is valid from September through December 2010 and it consists of enrolling for a General English course and the student will receive an upgrade to Intensive English. Our Venezuelan students like promotions such as “free weeks” or “percentage discounts”. This is why I recommend educators create special promotions for us so we make South Africa one of our most popular destinations!”
Flavio Crusoe, BEX, Brazil
“We started to send students to South Africa a couple of years ago, but only a few. The majority preferred other well-known destinations like the UK, the USA and Canada. South Africa was an unknown destination. but with the World Cup it has become more popular. The same situation happened with Australia after the Sydney 2000 Olympics Games.”
On the move
The English Language Institute (ELI) at the University of Pittsburgh in the USA has appointed Rob Mucklo as Marketing and Activities Coordinator for their Intensive English as a Second Language (ESL) Programme. Mr Mucklo has taught in the programme for the past four years and brings with him professional experience in marketing and recruitment advertising.
Miguel Fenton recently joined language school association Ialc as Marketing Manager. Mr Fenton began his marketing career in the travel industry and has previously held senior roles at the Institute of Directors in London and View London in the UK. He has many language skills and aims to build the Ialc brand and reach new markets worldwide.
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Canada has appointed Dr. Wesley J. Koczka as Associate Vice President, International and CEO Global Operations. With over 20 years of experience in both public and private sectors, Dr Koczka will oversee a CAN$17 million business unit, providing vision and strategic direction for the department by creating partnerships worldwide.
Jacqueline Kassteen has joined the World Youth Student and Educational Travel Confederation (WYSTC) based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, as a Marketing and Communications Officer. Ms Kassteen will be responsible for promoting their annual event, The World Youth & Student Travel Conference which takes place this October in Beijing, China.
Frances Macklon has become Principal at the Hampstead School of English in the UK. Ms Macklon has been at the school for over six years and spent the last three years as School Manager. “I intend to safeguard Hampstead’s reputation for excellence and further develop our systems to give our students and agents a service level that is second to none,” she said. Kevin McNally remains as Managing Director.
Shane Global has appointed Will Davis to be Sales and Marketing Manager for the UK. Having worked as a teacher in France for six years, Mr Davis worked as a Sales and Marketing Executive for Bloomsbury International. He moved to Shane Global in June of this year and is now responsible for overseeing the sales and marketing drive for Shane’s London and Hastings centres.
New sister company for Australian Internships
High demand within the voluntary sector has prompted work experience organisation, Australian Internships, to establish a sister company dedicated to providing young humanitarians with volunteering projects.
Volunteers Australia, which was officially launched in June, will offer indigenous volunteer programmes that provide “exceptional opportunities to experience life as a volunteer in an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community”, said Diana Pilling at the company. “Through daily work and interaction with community members, volunteers will gain insights into local culture and major issues facing communities.”
Working alongside local project and community leaders, candidates will be given the chance to provide help and assistance in areas such as healthcare, childcare, education, housing, arts & culture and environmental sustainability.
“The main focus of the volunteer programmes is of course on the volunteer work, however, Australian Internships/Volunteers Australia also recognises that in order to make a programme like this successful other issues need to be addressed, for example cultural awareness,” added Pilling. With this in mind, cultural awareness orientation sessions will be made available prior to placement commencement.
Industry news platform launched
Internet Advantage, a company specialising in Internet and social media marketing, has launched a website dedicated to language education news.
By collating and aggregating RSS feeds from relevant and respected websites, registered users of www.infoalacarte.net can download up-to-the-minute language related news, as well as articles on grammar, teaching materials, studying methods and product news.
The new service, which is available in both English and Spanish, aims to reduce the amount of time users spend browsing the net for industry news with subscribers receiving fresh content via regular emails.
Since its inception in March, the website has welcomed over 500 new subscribers.
Innovative partnership for exam board
International education publishing company, Pearson, has joined forces with Helen Doron Educational Partners to prepare test takers for Pearson’s English language proficiency examinations.
With more than 500 learning centres in 27 countries throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas the Helen Doron franchise has been operational since the mid-80s, providing exclusive learning programmes and quality educational materials for infants, young learners and adolescents the word over.
This collaboration will enable 30,000 of the 100,000 students currently enrolled at its English centres to access test preparation and support materials for Pearson’s PTE General and Pearson’s PTE Young Learners exams.
“For the last quarter of a century, our focus has been on providing learners with language acquisition tools that go beyond the mere mechanics of reading and writing to emphasise the critical importance of understanding and speaking,” said CEO and Founder of the language provider company, Helen Doron. “PTE General and PTE Young Learners are precisely the type of language assessment tools that take this holistic approach to measuring English language ability.”
Mark Andersen, President Global Strategy and Business Development at Pearson International, noted that this link-up was part of the exam and publishing group’s plan to raise overall worldwide standards in English language testing. He added, “Partnering with a premier language learning organisation such as Helen Doron Educational Group, to expand the reach of our language assessments to learners of all ages around the world, is an important step in achieving this critical goal.”
Majority of UK students uninsured
A survey conducted by online discount voucher hub, www.MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, has found that over 85 per cent of university students fail to insure their property when studying away from home.
The nationwide research analysed the responses of 1,276 members of the British public who were living and studying away from home or had done so in the last 10 years. Ninety five per cent said that they were living in shared accommodation, with the value of personal property averaging at UK£2,350 (US$3,519) per bedroom. Of those surveyed just 15 per cent said they had sought insurance.
Mobile learning takes off in Bangladesh
The BBC World Service Trust has reported it has delivered more than one million English lessons in the first three months of a mobile phone language lesson project launched in Bangladesh.
The Janala project offers mobile phone users a weekly three-minute audio or SMS lesson for around three taka (US$0.04).
“We knew demand for English was strong, but the response to Janala has been phenomenal,” said Sara Chamberlain, Project Director. “The growth of mobile is clearly creating opportunity to provide access to education.”
Rob McKay, Chairman of English New Zealand answers our questions on the association’s recent activities and what challenges members are currently facing.
Full name: English New Zealand
Year established: 1986
Number of members: 33
Type of members: Full and Associate
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
Rob McKay, Chairman, and Kim Renner, Operations Manager
PO Box 35283
Tel: +64 3 386 1222
Fax: +64 3 386 1225
What has your association been up to in the last 12 months?
We’ve continued our efforts in our three key areas marketing, quality assurance, and advocacy. Immigration policies and practices have been a focus and continue to be the area that we need to keep working on.
In light of the recent Geos collapse, how important is it to have a tuition assurance scheme in place (protecting student fees)? How does New Zealand’s work?
The NZQA (New Zealand Qualifications Authority) requires that all providers have arms-length student fee protection in place. Students are therefore able to continue studying in the event of a school closure by transferring their securely held fees to another provider. In any case, Geos NZ did not close. There was an ownership and name change and students continued their studies without disruption.
Has the New Zealand market benefited from Australia’s decision to revise some of its immigration pathways?
It’s unclear as to whether or not the Australian immigration pathways have had any effect on growth. English New Zealand continues to lobby government for work rights for English language students. Positively addressing this policy anomaly would have a significant impact on the overall growth and diversity of the industry.
What tough challenges could member schools come up against in 2010/2011?
Immigration settings have an enormous impact on our ability to grow our sector. Working with government in this area remains a key focus. We see evidence of sustainable growth and expect that to continue. There is now very good recognition of the English New Zealand brand and what it stands for. Clearly this helps us to face the unforeseen and remain strong. In tough times agents and students turn to schools they know they can trust.
What marketing activities are you planning for the near future?
We have an annual marketing calendar that includes agent workshops in 12 different cities worldwide. We focus on close working relationships with agents rather than competing with them at retail level. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Tourism New Zealand, and Immigration New Zealand all continue to provide support wherever possible to our marketing activities.
• Star Alliance member British Midland International (bmi) has launched a new website specifically catering for its Russian clientele. The website will enable passengers to book a flight in their native language, while also keeping them up-to-date with news as well as information regarding onboard and ground facilities. “bmi is strongly committed to providing the best service for its customers and we are delighted to launch this informative website for the Russian market. It will make booking bmi flights between London and Moscow even easier,” noted Tamarah Khatib, General Manager Online at bmi. The airline currently offers four daily flights from London Heathrow to the Russian capital, Moscow.
• Air India is to resume its daily service to Australia from November this year. Absent from the Australian market for over a decade, the route will enable passengers to travel from Delhi to Melbourne. Data released by Tourism Australia found that there was a 17.4 per cent increase in visitors from India to the state of Victoria from late last year to March 2010. “With a growing Indian community living here in Victoria we are also seeing more relatives and friends visit Victoria which is great for local jobs and the economy as tourism grows,” stated John Brumby, Victoria’s State Premier.
• UK-based carrier, British Airways (BA) is to expand into the Mexican market by launching two direct flights a week from London Gatwick to prime holiday destination, Cancun. Richard Tams, Head of UK & Ireland Sales and Marketing said, “We’re delighted to be the only UK scheduled airline offering direct flights to Cancun. It’s the perfect addition to our Gatwick long-haul premium leisure network.”
• The price and nutritional value of airline food has been put under the spotlight recently, prompting many passengers to take their own food onboard. UK carriers have been accused of placing huge mark ups on snacks prices average UK£4 (US$6) for a sandwich and UK£3 (US$4) for a cup of tea leaving passengers with little alternative. Meanwhile, medical experts have accused airlines of not offering healthier food options. Charles Stuart Platkin, a leading nutrition and public food advocate in the USA, noted that airlines do not publicise the calorie content of a standard snack box and is in favour of passengers bringing their own food with them. “Most airlines did away with free food in 2001 when the last economic downturn hit them particularly hard, and that could actually work to [passenger] advantage,” said Platkin. He added, “You’re better off now… when they put that free meal in front of you, you were eating 1,000 or more calories and it was terrible food.”
• Back in July, inventors came one step closer to harnessing solar power to fuel an aircraft. An experimental solar-powered plane is reported to have flown for 26-hours, up to heights of 29,000 feet, aided by super efficient solar panels and battery power. Touching down at an airfield 30 miles from the Swiss capital of Bern, Project Designer, Bertrand Piccard, said, “It’s the first time ever that a [manned] solar airplane has flown through the night. That was the moment that proved the mission was successful...we made it.” The plane is also reported to have had three hours of battery power remaining, more than was originally anticipated.
• Air Arabia has signed an agreement with diversified investment company, the Tantash Group, to launch the Middle East and North Africa’s first low-cost carrier. The new airline will primarily be based in Amman, Jordan at Queen Alia International Airport and will specialise in services to destinations across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. “At a time when the global and regional economy continues to demonstrate strong signs of sustained recovery, we are confident of the long-term growth opportunities for the first low-cost carrier in the Kingdom, which will provide the high level of service, operational reliability and value-for-money fares that have become hallmarks of the Air Arabia brand,” said Adel Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer of Air Arabia.
• Australian budget carrier, Jetstar, has announced it will expand its New Zealand operations to cater for stronger customer demand. The airline will add an additional Airbus A320 aircraft to its current fleet of six with the flexibility to operate on domestic or international routes from its existing New Zealand ports. Meanwhile, fellow antipodean carrier, Air New Zealand, has announced plans to let its passengers send SMS text messages and emails mid-flight by the end of the year.
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