Satisfaction levels up at Australian language schools
Levels of student satisfaction are up in Australia’s Elicos sector, according to the findings of a survey of 8,722 students at 49 different English language providers.
The second ELT Barometer, conducted by the International Graduate Insight Group (i-graduate) in late 2011, found that 87 per cent of students were satisfied or very satisfied with their course, up from 81 per cent in the previous barometer in 2009. Overall learning satisfaction was up by five percentage points to 91 per cent in 2011, while overall living satisfaction rose from 86 per cent to 89 per cent. Each of the indicators was above the comparative level in the 2011 Australia International Student Barometer undertaken at 28 universities.
Satisfaction with progress in English proficiency rose to 94 per cent up by three per cent and perceptions of value for money increased by six per cent, now standing at 78 per cent.
Sue Blundell, Executive Director of English Australia, which launched the ELT Barometer initiative on behalf of the sector, said, “What is particularly pleasing are the high levels of student satisfaction with all aspects of learning, teaching and assessment, as well as with their welcome, social and cultural events. We are not complacent, however, and with this publication have sought to identify areas of priority for the sector and provide best practice approaches to addressing issues, thus allowing for continuous service delivery enhancement across the sector.”
The use of agencies in the application process decreased slightly but remained high, with 68 per cent of respondents booking via an agency in 2011, compared with 73 per cent in 2009. Satisfaction levels with the agency service were also high, with 87 per cent rating this as either good or very good. In terms of student respondents to the survey, 53 per cent were from Asia. By far the largest group of respondents were Chinese students, accounting for 34 per cent, up from 23 per cent in 2009.
The results echoed a number of findings in Study Travel Magazine’s Market Analysis Australia (see STM, May 2012, page 59-62).
English UK launches East England sub-group
English UK has introduced a new regional association: English UK East, representing member schools from Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Northamptonshire. So far the association has 20 members, including a university, further education colleges, a boarding school and private language schools.
John Barnett, Chair and Principal of Cambridge Academy of Education, said, “We’re really delighted to get recognition from English UK; our next step is to put the east of England on the map. There’s been a lot of growth in the region as far as English language teaching is concerned, with more and more interesting destinations than we had a few years ago.”
English UK East will soon launch a website, and will run fam trips to the region as well as marketing activities. Commenting on why students should choose the area as a study abroad destination, Barnett said, “It’s not just about coming to Cambridge. There’s great historical and cultural interest in this area, with beautiful towns and cities including Bury St Edmunds, Norwich, Colchester and Ely. It’s a very non-industrialised area of the country which does set it apart. There’s a slightly different community here and students have a good opportunity to become part of it. It’s easier for them to make contact with local clubs and native speakers.”
UK universities spend UK £60 million on commission
Universities in the UK recruited over 50,000 students via agents in 2010/11, spending around UK£60 million (US$93 million) on commission payments, according to research by the Times Higher Education (THE).
Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that over 100 universities used agents during the 2010/11 academic year to recruit a total of 51,027 non-EU students. This represents around 30 per cent of the 174,225 non-EU students that enrolled on higher education courses in the UK during the same period, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
A total of UK£57.8 million (US$89.9 million) was spent by 92 universities during the 2010/11 year, averaging UK£628,000 (US$976,000) per institution. A further 17 institutions refused THE’s requests for data on the grounds of commercial sensitivity. However, payments made during 2010/11 did not relate exclusively to students recruited in the same period.
The report cited the University of Bedfordshire as the largest recruiter of non-EU students via agents, with 2,461 in 2011, although the university declined to reveal the value of commission payments. In terms of declared commission spending, Newcastle University was top of the list, with UK£2.2 million (US$3.4 million) paid to agents during 2010/11.
New online marketplace for language travel launched
ESL Explorer has been launched as an online platform to match students who are looking to study English abroad and language schools. The site aims to combine social media elements, ratings and reviews, recommendations and e-commerce.
In ESL Explorer’s social network, students can see how others have rated destinations and schools, while the system matches students’ preferences to schools’ areas of strength. Students can browse the selection of schools and complete the purchase of their entire travel experience. At the time of writing, ESL Explorer had gathered around 250 schools across 72 cities in nine different countries.
Peter Lukomskyj, COO of ESL Explorer, said a forthcoming development of the site will be a mentor system, where agents will be free to register as mentors and offer advice to student clients. Mentors can also be rated by students and will receive a portion of commission on bookings.
Founder of ESL Explorer, Nick Miller, said, “We studied the dynamics of the language travel industry and built a unique multi-sided platform that serves the needs of both students and schools, while respecting that mentors play an important role in guiding students through what can be a complex purchase process.”
Mayfair school opens new campus
Mayfair School of English (MSE) has moved to a new campus on Oxford Street in the centre of London.
Located next to the new Crossrail terminus, the newly refurbished building’s facilities include 14 spacious classrooms with average class sizes of 10 students, high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi with unlimited downloads, digital technology in every class, a computer laboratory and self-study area, a large breakout area, and a student club room.
Courses offered include General English, Ielts, Cambridge, Business English, Integrated Work Placement courses and new Tesol programmes for native and non-native speakers. Duncan Watson, MSE Director and Principal said, “For over 25 years, MSE has been delivering academic excellence to its students; from September 2012 our new site in the heart of Central London will offer facilities to match as well.”
Italy launches bilingual higher education website
As part of a drive to attract more international students, Italy’s Ministry of Education has introduced a bilingual web portal listing all university courses available in the country.
UniversItaly has listings of all courses offered by Italian universities, colleges, academies, conservatories and technical schools in both Italian and English. Further information for international students includes advice on fees, potential scholarships and details on the increasing number of programmes in Italy that are now delivered in English. The Politecnico di Milano, one of the country’s leading institutions, recently announced that most of its degree courses would be taught and assessed entirely in English from 2014.
The website will also allow students to register for the International Medical Admissions Test (Imat), the English language version of the Italian admissions test. A number of Italian universities offer medicine and surgery master’s degrees in English. The Imat initiative is part of an agreement between the ministry and University of Cambridge Esol Examinations that will see the exam board provide admissions tests for Italian and international students planning to study English-based courses in Italy (see STM, May 2012, page 10).
Aviation English test approved
Following a recent inspection, Anglo-Continental in Bournemouth, UK, has been formally approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for the English testing of pilots.
Working to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) specifications, Anglo-Continental’s testing team developed the Test of English for Aviation Personnel (Teap) to assess the language proficiency of private and commercial pilots. ICAO has stipulated that all aviation personnel on international routes should have a minimum level of English identified by ICAO as Level 4 (operational).
Managing Director of Anglo-Continental, Guido Schillig, said, “Since 1970 Anglo-Continental has strived to provide pilots of the future and other aviation personnel with the English language skills and air safety instruction they need for a successful career. We are very pleased to have our efforts officially recognised by the UK CAA and to be the first language school to achieve this.”
Britannia to open Study Hotel in Brighton
Britannia Study Hotel, a new state-of-the-art student residence in Brighton, UK, commissioned by leading student accommodation agency Britannia Student Services, is scheduled to open in spring 2013.
Currently in the process of being redeveloped, the hotel is located close to Brighton train station and near the seafront, and will feature 134 “ultra-modern” bedrooms and hubs on each floor furnished with sofas, dining tables, flat screen TVs and fully equipped kitchens. All en suite bedrooms will have tiled bathrooms, walnut effect furniture with double storage beds, laptop safes and a small refrigerator.
Britannia Study Hotel will be available for short and long stays year-round. A number of room allocations will be available to language schools, agents and colleges, with bookings accepted on an ad hoc basis, subject to room availability.
Michele da Silva, Managing Director at Britannia, said, “We believe that Brighton is a natural step for our expansion and we hope that Britannia Study Hotel will fill a gap in the market by providing high-standard year-round residence accommodation to international student visitors from all over the world.”
News in brief
Tieca announces new board and Alphe tie-up
The Thai International Education Consultants Association (Tieca) has announced its new committee for 2012/13: Penprapa Vudhivate (President); Annop Kanthatham (Vice-President); Patcharaporn Boonkerd (Secretary General); Purit Sophonkanaphon (General Committee); Phatunya Chongsubthum (Treasurer); and Siridhorn Sorntarit (General Committee Special Events). The association has also announced that next year it will coordinate its annual Tieca Fair to coincide with the Alphe Asia 2013 workshop in Bangkok. The venue has not yet been confirmed, but the event will be held on the weekend after Alphe Asia, which takes place on 20-22 February.
German university unveils lecture translation system
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany, has developed a computer-based lecture translation service that it hopes will help to attract more international students. “The lecture translator automatically records the lecture, transcribes the text into a written version, and translates it into English in real time,” said Professor Alex Waibel. “Students can then follow the lecture via their PC or mobile phone.” The lecture translator combines the technologies of automatic speech recognition and statistic machine translation in an integrated system. Auxiliary components stucture the text, deal with punctuation, treat German compound words, record the lecture and display the translation result.
New Ielts test centre in Brighton
Sussex Downs College has announced the opening of a new Ielts test venue at City College in Brighton & Hove, UK, adding to test centres that Sussex Downs College manages at its own campus in Eastbourne, and in Hastings. Mark Allen, International Manager at Sussex Downs College, said, “As a hub for test centres across the south coast, we are always looking for ways to improve the student experience. We are really pleased to have secured this new test venue at City College Brighton & Hove, which has excellent facilities for students. Students can be reassured that they are sitting this important exam with a successful test centre that has been used by thousands of candidates for more than a decade.”
Qatar Airways, the country’s flagship carrier, has launched a tri-weekly service from Doha to the Western Australian city of Perth, marking one of the airline’s biggest route launches this year. Rold Obeid, Country Manager Australasia, commented, “Tourism is the major economic driver in Western Australia, and Qatar Airways arrives at a time when tourist and travellers seek easier connections worldwide.” Meanwhile, Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive Officer, said that there had never been a better time to expand in Australia, and that the flight would also provide connections to the African continent, signalling “enormous growth potential”.
Indeed, African countries are fast becoming popular flight destinations, with Qatar Airways also unveiling plans to begin a route from Doha to Mozambique’s capital city Maputo, flying three times a week from October 31. The route adds to the recently launched route from Doha to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Al Baker said, “Mozambique is a great example of a market that we believe has great potential linking up with key feeder markets in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world.” Etihad Airways is also starting a six times weekly flight between Abu Dhabi and Lagos. The service is the airline’s first to West Africa, adding to existing journeys to Cairo, Casablanca, Johannesburg, Khartoum, Nairobi and Tripoli. The carrier’s Chief Commercial Officer, Peter Baumgartner, said, “Our flight will enhance our network in Africa and increase ties between the UAE and Nigeria.” Afriqiyah Airways has also resumed flights from London’s Gatwick to Libya’s Tripoli, after the service was originally cancelled last year due to political unrest.
Vueling, a Spanish budget carrier, has begun flights from Barcelona to the UK’s Southampton and has reintroduced the popular Edinburgh to Barcelona route. Commenting on the services, which are both tri-weekly, CEO Alex Cruz said, “We are delighted to introduce these new routes to our expanding UK network. The reintroduction of the Edinburgh to Barcelona route further demonstrates our commitment to providing more regional flights to Spain for the UK market.”
Starting in the new year, Emirates will run an extra daily service from Dubai to New York JFK airport, doubling capacity between the two cities. Thierry Antinori, Executive Vice President of Passenger Sales Worldwide, said the airline was experiencing high demand for this flight. “We have continued to invest in our services by increasing our capacity to build on the resurgent demand for air travel within the US,” he added.
Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) has announced the launch of a service connecting Singapore with the Phillippines’ Iloilo, starting November 9, and there are also plans to provide a twice weekly service from Hong Kong to Iloilo. Candice Iyog, Vice President for Marketing and Distribution, said, “CEB will continue to stimulate travel to, from and within the Philippines with the most extensive route network.” CEB also plans to introduce in-flight Wi-Fi access on Manila-based aircraft from 2013, becoming the first Southeast Asian low-cost carrier to offer this facility. Ian Dawkins, CEO of partner company OnAir, commented, “As the air transport market develops, we expect to see more low-cost carriers operating long-haul routes and there is no doubt they will want to provide connectivity.”
Singapore Airlines (SIA) will boost London Heathrow to Singapore flights from three-to-four times daily this month. Mak Swee Wah, Executive Vice President of Commercial at SIA, commented, “We have been looking to increase our London flights for many years and we are pleased that we can do so now. Not only are London and Singapore attractive destinations in their own right, the additional flights will allow for more convenient connections beyond Singapore to other points within Asia and the South West Pacific.”
The Queen, Barack Obama and hip hop music artist Snoop Dogg have reached new levels of fame through appearing in cartoon form in Air New Zealand’s recently launched safety video. The previous video, starring body painted airline staff, New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks and Fitness Guru Richard Simmons, attracted more than 20 million views online. Chris Myers, General Manager, said, “This time, we are taking the opportunity to highlight the global reach of our business and to recognise world events and celebrities in a uniquely Air New Zealand way.”