|The total number of students placed by the 11 agencies in our survey was 867 (one agency declined to give this information)
Individual agencies placed between 28 and 174 students on courses per year
The average length of stay for Thai students was 14 weeks
Overall, 47 per cent of Thai students preferred host family accommodation when studying overseas
A higher percentage of agency clients were studying abroad for further studies overseas, namely 43 per cent
Language learning is the most lucrative sector of the study abroad market for Thai agents
||Most popular courses
|1. Australia 43%
2. UK 23%
3. USA 17%
4. New Zealand 7%
5. Canada 4%
6. Singapore 3%
7. Ireland 1%
8. France 0.5%
||1. General language 39%
2. Under/post graduate 25%
3. Intensive language 11%
4. Language plus work exp 8%
5. Summer vacation 7%
6. Junior 4%
7. University foundation 2%
8. Academic/exam prep 2%
9. Business 1%
10. GCSE/A-Level/IB/Pre-U 1%
|Reasons for studying overseas
||Average percentage agency business
|1. Further studies overseas 43%
2. Future work 26%
3. Further studies at home 14%
4. Current work 13%
5. Pleasure 1%
||1. Language programmes 44%
2. Higher education 36%
3. Secondary education abroad 11%
4. Work & travel 4%
5. Internships 2%
|How do agents recruit students?
||How do agents find new schools to represent?
|1. Word-of-mouth 52%
2. Website 25%
3. E/online marketing 10%
4. Mail shots 4%
5. Seminars to students 3.5%
6. Advertising in press 2%
7. Advertising on TV/radio 0.5%
|| 1. B2B conferences
2. Internet 29%
3. STM 12%
4. Language fairs and student expos 9%
5. Other press 1%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
English Australia 80%
Languages Canada 30%
Groupement FLE 10%
Italian in Italy 10%
Eng NZ 60%
British Council 80%
English UK 90%
World Organisation 10%
Quality English 0%
Small-to-medium sized players sending between 28 and 174 students abroad in the last 12 months characterised this month’s survey. When comparing student weeks, agents gave a mixed response. Two reported stability, three recorded an increase, three a decrease and three did not answer. Despite the country experiencing some of the worst flooding in decades, average business growth was a commendable 10 per cent, down on the 18 per cent recorded previously (see STM, September 2011, pages 30-31).
Language and destination trends
Australia is one of the nearest ELT destinations for Thai students, accounting for a quarter of requests in 2011’s survey. This year, this country was by far the most popular, requested by 43 per cent. The USA, first in our last survey of the Thai market, dropped to third place with a 17 per cent share. The UK, meanwhile, was the preferred destination for 23 per cent. An emerging ELT market in its own right, Singapore is another choice for Thai students, with a small but noteworthy two per cent share of student bookings, up one percentage point since last year.
Student and course trends
In keeping with previous years, there was a shift away from intensive language study. These programmes were requested by 11 per cent, compared with 34 per cent previously. Under or postgraduate degrees not tracked in our last survey were the most requested programmes with a quarter share of the market. General language programmes also received a 25 per cent share. A differing sample of agencies could well explain the differences in course trends (see top right pie chart). The average Thai student’s length of stay has been consistently high in the past, but this year it has dipped from 17 to 14 weeks. Agents reported 43 per cent of clients were learning with further study overseas in mind.
On average, agents worked with 48 different schools in five countries. Agency websites proved fundamental in marketing services (25 per cent), however referrals from previous student clients were the most likely source of new business, up nine percentage points to 52 per cent. A good proportion of new school partnerships (29 per cent) were formed on the Internet, compared with 42 per cent previously, and one agent noted all business was sourced via this means. A significant number of new working relationships (33 per cent) were cultivated at b2b conferences, although this was down 22 percentage points on previous results. Again, one agent noted 100 per cent of business was generated face-to-face at conferences. Language learning was the mainstay of agency business (44 per cent).
The general consensus among participants was that business will increase over the next year. Several agents mentioned the efforts of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) a group of 10 Asian countries including Thailand that supports collaboration in a number of areas including education, suggesting that alternative ELT destinations such as Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines (all Asean members) could grow in popularity among Thai students. One agent related that political upheaval over the last six years has made people nervous about studying abroad. However, they outlined a wide belief that English speaking skills in Thailand are insufficient.
• Thailand’s economy expanded in the first quarter of 2012 as factories resumed production and domestic consumption revived after last year’s floods.
• Gross domestic product increased 0.3 per cent in the three months through March from a year earlier, after contracting 8.9 per cent in the previous quarter, the National Economic and Social Development Board said.
• Bank of Thailand Governor, Prasarn Trairatvorakul, said the monetary authority will not cut rates again because the pace of recovery is exceeding expectations, even as Europe’s debt woes and higher oil prices pose risks to growth.
• “The post-flood rebound is progressing nicely, with a stronger-than-expected rebound likely to keep Bank of Thailand focused on future inflation risk,” said a Senior Currency Strategist in Hong Kong at Scotiabank. “We are going to see recovery ramp up. However, it’s not going to be at such a massive rate of growth.”
• The baht rose 0.5 per cent against the US dollar in May.
Thai agents named a range of programmes they work with, including, in Australia: Impact English College, Melbourne, VIC; Holmes Institute, Melbourne, VIC; The Education Group (TEG), various; Raffles College of Design and Commerce, Sydney, NSW. In Canada: Tamwood International College, Vancouver, BC. In New Zealand: The Campbell Institute, Wellington; Language Studies International (LSI), Auckland; Roncalli College, Timaru; Palmerston North Boys’ High School, Palmerston North. In Singapore: James Cook University. In the UK: Centre of English Studies, Wimbledon; English Language Centre, Oxford; Language Studies International, Portsmouth; Language Studies International, London; LTC Eastbourne, Eastbourne; Southampton University, Southampton; Twin Group, London; University of Kent, Kent; University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth; In the USA: FLS International, Pasadena, CA; Language Studies International, San Francisco; Zoni Language Centers, New York, NY. International: Sprachcaffe Language Plus.
Thank you to the following advisory centres for taking part in this survey: Hearts & Minds Education, Gateway Inter Study, The Mastery UK, i4GS, Centory Co, S&K International Education, Infolearning Company, Kinetics Education and Training Centre, Union Plus, IDP Education Services, Insight Education Consulting.