||Despite stilted business growth over the last 12 months, Spanish agencies report a change in tactics could help recovery. Variations in study destination, a change in sector speciality and a finely-tuned programmes list have been suggested as possible solutions.
|• The total number of students placed by 11 of the 12 agencies in our survey was 3,081
• Individual agencies placed between 41 and 1,050 students on courses per year
• Average business growth was minus 8.2 per cent in the last 12 months
• The average length of stay for Spanish students was three weeks
• Overall, 49 per cent of Spanish students stayed in residential accommodation when studying
• One of the agencies surveyed charged their clients a handling fee
• On average agencies worked with 51 different schools in 14 different countries
||Most popular courses
|1. UK 56%
2. Ireland 21%
3. Malta 11%
4. USA 7%
5. Canada 2%
6. France 1%
6. Australia 1%
6. Germany 1%
6. Japan 1%
||1. General 40%
2. Junior 28%
3. Summer vacation 15%
4. Intensive 9%
5. Language & work experience 4%
6. Academic/exam prep. 2%
6. Business 2%
|Reasons for language travel
||Average percentage agency business
|1. Future work 38%
2. Current work 24%
3. Studies at home 17%
4. Studies overseas 11%
5. Pleasure 10%
||1. Language progr. 74%
2. Work & travel 16%
3. Higher education 3%
4. Internships 2%
5. Volunteer 1%
|How do agencies recruit students?
||How do agencies find new business partners?
|1. Word-of-mouth 40%
2. E/online marketing 24%
3. Website 22%
4. Mailshots 4%
5. Seminars to students 3%
6. Advertising in press 2%
||1. Internet 36%
2. Workshops 34%
3. Lang. fairs & expos 23%
4. LTM/ETM 4%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
English Australia 27%
Languages Canada 64%
Groupement FLE 36%
Italian in Italy 18%
English NZ 18%
English UK 91%
British Council 91%
Quality English 91%
Opinion concerning average business growth varied in this year’s survey of Spanish agency trends. Six participants posted negative growth figures ranging from minus 5 to minus 25 per cent (deep recession was cited as the probable cause of a business downturn, alongside the government’s decision to curb student grants) while two noted that business had remained on a par with last year. Just one agency reported a business growth of 25 per cent, pulling up the overall average to minus 8.2 per cent. However, this is in stark contrast to last year’s more positive posting of 13 per cent (see LTM, September 2009, pages 24-25).
Language and destination trends
This year, the UK increased its lead over fellow English-speaking destinations, up 12 percentage points to 56 per cent, making up for the slump it suffered in 2008 (see LTM, July 2008, pages 20-21). However, it should be noted that one agency sent students exclusively to the UK for study purposes. As a destination choice, both Ireland and Malta attracted a greater proportion of students this year, up from 17 to 21 per cent and four to 11 per cent respectively. While Spanish students predominantly chose to learn English abroad, up from 80 per cent last year to 91 per cent, agencies did note a variety of other language programmes that were requested, most notably French, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Russian.
Student and course trends
Spanish students proved they are a cost-conscious lot with a quarter of all agency clientele plumping for a programme that enabled them to work while abroad (16 per cent). Earning while learning clearly factored highly in Spanish students’ list of wants in fact agents cited this as a growth area in 2009 consequently the uptake of programmes in the volunteer or internship sectors was low. Just one per cent were interested in volunteer programmes, compared with 11 per cent previously, while two per cent requested an internship, compared with 10 per cent in 2009.
Spanish agents value agent workshops (34 per cent) and the Internet (36 per cent) highly when it comes to finding new business partners to work with. When it came to recruiting students, however, direct bookings via an agency website were a little muted. Just 22 per cent of all agency clientele stemmed from this source this year, down slightly on the 29 per cent recorded previously. Viral emails and online marketing campaigns generated an impressive 24 per cent of all agency business.
Despite a turbulent year, Spanish agents are quietly optimistic about what the next 12 months might hold. Many signaled areas they would tap into to help ease recovery, such as junior programmes, summer school, boarding school in the UK and work and travel options. Another agency, that currently sends students to the UK only, has vowed to broaden their horizons this year by working with providers in Ireland and the USA. However, one agent warned that disposable income is dropping in Spain, and coupled with high unemployment, limited growth in 2010/2011 could well be on the cards.
• Spain has recently revised its economic growth forecasts for 2011 and 2012, lopping 0.5 and 0.4 per cent off of original estimates. Spain’s government is reported to have said that the economy will grow by 2.5 per cent in 2012, down from its previous forecast of 2.9 per cent. Forecasts for growth next year have dropped to 1.3 per cent from 1.8 per cent.
• Unemployment was also forecast at an average 18.9 per cent in 2011, up from the 18.4 per cent.
• GDP growth in 2013 is seen at 2.7 per cent, down from 3.1 per cent previously. Public spending will be capped at 7.7 per cent.
Spanish agents named a range of language programmes they work with, including, in Canada: Camber College, Powell River, BC. In Ireland: Cork Language Centre International, Cork; Cork English College, Cork; Emerald Cultural Institute, Dublin; Galway Cultural Institute, Galway. In Malta: English Language Academy, Sliema; IH Malta, Gozo; inlingua Malta, Sliema. In New Zealand: Wellington Business School, Wellington. In the UK: Capital School of English, Bournemouth; Castle School of English, Brighton; Central School of English, London; Centre of English Studies, Worthing; Concorde International, Canterbury; Hampstead School of English, London; Hastings English Language Centre, Hastings; International Summer School, Kent & Eastbourne; King’s School of English, various, Language Plus, Brighton; Malvern House, London; Stafford House Study Holidays, Canterbury; Sussex Downs College, Lewes & Eastbourne; United International, London. In the USA: California School of Languages, Santa Monica, CA; ELS, various.
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in this survey: Living Languages, Study Global Spain, Twist Gestion de Ocio Educativo, Babel Idiomas, Cevex, LanguagesGo!, BNCGROUPS, Learning Out, London Thames Language Services, TEC-Idiomas, Aston Idiomas en el Mundo, Spanish Teachers.