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September 2011 issue

Contents
News
Business Focus
Advisor Survey
Feedback
Market Report
Direction I
Direction II
Special Report
Course Guide
Spotlight
Destination
City Focus
Status

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Students speak

Students value the services provided by study abroad advisors but expect them to be able to provide a wealth of in-depth and accurate information, according to our survey of students who booked their programme through an advisor. Gillian Evans reports.

Much was made at the start of the millennium of the possible decrease in relevance of the travel agency as the Internet grew in importance as a source of information and means of purchasing anything from food and flowers to a study abroad holiday. But the study abroad advisor has remained a vital component of our industry, with clients realising that the wide knowledge base and expertise of study abroad advisory centres far outweighed the confusing mass of information available on the Internet. What has changed, however, is the high level of professionalism expected of advisors by their students.

Why an advisor?
The core reason for students to choose to book their study abroad programme through an advisor is to benefit from their expertise. An Icelandic student recounts, “It was easier to find a school, job and place to stay through the agency.” Price also plays an important role. Tami from Brazil said she chose to book through an advisor because of the price and range of programmes that were on offer, while 23-year-old Alberto from Honduras indicated that he chose to book through an agency because medical insurance was included in the price. Similarly, German student Mathias chose to book through the advisor because “it was the cheapest [course] and they were offering me a scholarship”.

Instilling their clients with confidence is important and Spanish student Irene comments, “The [agency] is competent and organised, and it also seemed like the consultants were very familiar with the locations [and] schools to which they send their students. Because of this, they are able to advise and prepare students better.”

Choosing the advisor
Trust is an important factor when it comes to using an advisor, evidenced in the high proportion of students – 33 per cent – who used an agency as a direct result of a personal recommendation from a friend or family member. Sixteen-year-old Irene from Spain said her parents had already used the agency for a course for her brother a few years before and so they used the same agency for her trip. A further 30 per cent of the students who took part in our survey had found their agency on the Internet, seven per cent through exhibitions, a further seven per cent through advertisements in newspapers, and 10 per cent through their schools. Seminars and small workshops in schools conducted by advisory centres are an effective marketing tool for agencies. Lotte from Germany explains, “There was an information event about exchange programmes at my local high school, where many organisations presented their programmes. You could collect the different brochures and there were consultants to give you more information. There were very helpful and friendly consultants at [my agency] stand and I liked the brochures.”

Type of consultation
For many students, the agency website was highly important in providing an overview of their study options, and when criticised by students, this was usually because of a lack of information. For example, Icelandic student Eva said, “The website was good but would be better if they showed more information about the place we’re going to.” The website can also assure students of the advisory centre’s credibility. One student commented that, although the agency website was not a factor in her decision about which agency to use, as they had found out about the company through a school seminar, “the online testimonials and the presentation of the individual schools did confirm that I had made the right decision”.

While the advisory centres’ websites generally acted as a first point of contact for students, half of the respondents in our survey also had face-to-face consultations with their advisor, while 13 per cent were advised by email and phone, and 10 per cent used email only to communicate. A German student said she received considerable personal attention for her booking. “[I had] several face-to-face consultations [with the advisor], once to discuss finding the most suitable school, where there was an interview, and then there was a two-day preparation seminar, where all exchange students were prepared in detail for their time abroad.”

Students valued an advisory service that provided a wide range of information. Lucy from Taiwan said she was given information about the weather, airport and city transportation, clothing, budget and a map of her destination. Eva mentioned that her advisory centre arranged a meeting a couple of days before the trip to tell the students what they could expect in their study destination. Irish student Katie reported that her advisor sent “a lot of information to me about the course as well as information about other courses – they spent about two months preparing me for it”. Two students indicated that they did not receive enough orientation information, and three students said they would have liked a wider choice of schools in a particular location.

Accurate information
As the biggest asset an advisory centre has is its wealth of experience and expertise in the study abroad field, this was also where the expectations of the students were highest and any complaints centred on inaccurate or insufficient information. One student reported, “[My advisor] didn’t tell us much about the school. I would have wanted to know more about it. She told us some basic information about the accommodation and what to expect.” Portuguese student Olinda says, “About the [course] I was informed that I would do an intensive course of 26 lessons per week. Actually I have a course of 22 hours per week.” Katie from Ireland commented that she would have liked to have known exactly what the students would be learning in class.

Offering an efficient service was also an important factor for Colombian student Andres, who said, “[The advisor] helped me a lot but they took too long taking documents to the Canadian embassy.” Icelandic student Maria says that improvements could have been made to the service she received by being “better organised and [providing] more information about the school and the hotels that I am going to work in”.

One student mentioned that not all the advisors at the centre she used offered the same level of service, with one not being as accurate in the information supplied as the others. “[The advisory centre I used] needs to re-educate their employees to make sure each one is professional, not only some of them,” she said.

Highly recommended
Nevertheless, a high proportion of surveyed students (99 per cent of those who answered this question) indicated that they would recommend their advisory centre to other students interested in going overseas. One British student said, “I would recommend my agency because they were very professional and gave me a good insight into what [my location] is like.” Alberto commented that the advisory centre he used “answered all my questions as soon as they could”.
Most students also indicated that they would book any future study abroad programme through an advisory centre again, although two students said they would not because they thought it was cheaper to go directly to the school. One student also said that having booked through an advisor the first time, he would now book independently as he knew more about what to look for. The best feedback that any advisor would like to receive is that from Eva from Iceland. “I’m very glad about this trip so far. Everything is how [I expected it] to be.”


Type of consultation
Face-to-face 28%
Face-to-face and email 19%
Email and phone 13%
Email only 10%
Face-to-face and phone 6%
Other/unknown 24%

Nationality breakdown of students
German 16%
Icelandic 13%
Swiss 13%
Korean 9%
Irish 6%
Spanish 6%
Bangladeshi 3%
Brazilian 3%
British 3%
Colombian 3%
Honduran 3%
Nepalese 3%
Portugese 3%
Russian 3%
Taiwanese 3%


Thank you to the following schools for taking part in our survey: BELS, Malta; Carl Duisberg Centren, Germany; Christchurch College of English, New Zealand; ELA, Malta; Humboldt Institute, Germany; ILSC, Canada; LSF, France; Pamploma Spanish Institute, Spain; South African School of English, South Africa.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Study Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.

Name

Company

Country

Telephone

Email


ACCOMMODATION
Britannia Student Services  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  

ASSOCIATIONS/ GROUPS
Association of British Language Schools  
ALTO  
English Australia  
International House World Organisation  
Languages Canada / Langues Canada  
Perth Education City  
Quality English  
The English Network  

EVENTS
British Boarding Schools Workshop   

EXAM BOARDS
Cambridge Esol  
Pearson Education  
TOEFL Educational Testing Service  
Trinity College London  

INSURANCE
Dr. Walter GmbH  
Guard. Me  

SERVICES
Easymate  
Western Union  

TOURIST BOARDS
Malta Tourism Authority  

WORK EXPERIENCE
St Giles International  
Twin Group  

AUSTRALIA
Ability Education  
Academies Australasia  
Bond University  
Carrick Institute of Education  
English Language & Foundation Studies Centre  
Impact English College  
Language Studies International  
Lexis Engilsh  
Melbourne Language Centre  
Pacific Gateway International College  
Perth Education City  
Shafston International College  
Southbank Institute of TAFE  
Think: Education Group  
University of New South Wales  
University of Tasmania  

AUSTRIA
Easymate  

BELGIUM
CERAN Lingua International  

CANADA
Access International English Language Centre   
Apex Language & Career College   
Banff Education Centre  
Bond International College/ Bond Language Centre  
Cornerstone Academic College   
East Coast School of Languages  
English School of Canada  
Eurocentres Canada  
Fanshawe College  
GEOS International Schools North America  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
International Language School of the YMCAs Quebec  
Languages Canada / Langues Canada  
Luther College High School  
LSC Language Studies Canada  
Language Studies International  
Niagara College  
North Island College  
Queen's School of English  
University Of Victoria  
Saint Mary's University  
Vancouver English Centre  
ENGLAND
ABC Languages  
Absolutely English Young Learners  
Angel Language Academy  
Bell International  
Cambridge Education Group - HO  
Camp Beaumont  
English Language Centre Brighton & Hove  
Hampstead School of English  
International House London  
INTO University Partnerships  
Kaplan International Colleges  
Liverpool Community College  
London School of Business & Finance  
London School of English  
Malvern House College London  
Ovingdean Hall College  
King's Colleges  
Queen Ethelburga's College  
Skola  
Spinnaker College  
St Giles International  
Study Group  
SUL Language Schools  
University of Essex - International Academy  
Wimbledon School of English  

FRANCE
Accent Francais  
Carel  
Ecole Suisse Internationale  
Idiom  
Langue Onze Toulouse  
Le Franc Parler   
LSF Montpellier  
Lyon Bleu International  
Paris Langues / Club CEI des 4 Vents  

GERMANY
Sprachcaffe Languages Plus  

IRELAND
Alpha College of English  
Atlantic Language Galway  
Cork English Academy83  
Emerald Cultural Institute  
Galway Cultural Institute  
Language & Business College Ireland  

MALTA
Clubclass Residential Language School  
EC English Language Centre  
English Language Academy  
inlingua Malta  

SWITZERLAND
EF  
Eurocentres Cape Town  

SOUTH AFRICA
Cape English Language School  
EC Cape Town  
Eurocentres Cape Town  
Good Hope Studies  
inlingua Language Training Centre Cape Town  
EF  
International House Cape Town  
Interlink School of Languages  
Jeffrey's Bay Language School  
Kurus English  
LAL Cape Town  

SPAIN
International House - Sevilla CLIC  
Inturjoven Spanish Courses   
Malaca Instituto - Club Hispanico SL  
Pamplona Learning Spanish Institute  

USA
Educatius  
ELS Language Centers  
STS Student Travel Schools  
University of Arizona  
University of California San Diego  
Zoni Language Centers  




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