On the move
Claire Twyman has joined Newcastle University London (NUL) in the UK as Marketing Coordinator where she will be creating marketing content to support student recruitment objectives. Claire will also be promoting student experiences via social media and other channels, and will be responsible for overseeing the production of the university prospectus and development of the website. Previously, Claire was Staff Journalist at StudyTravel Magazine.
Academy of Information Technology (AIT) in Sydney, Australia, has appointed Kristyna Turner as Marketing Manager where she will be responsible for leading the domestic and international marketing, student recruitment and business development activities. Kristyna moved from the Career Education Division of Study Group and has eight years of professional experience in managing marketing, sales and business development projects in the industry.
Jess Waiton joins SUL Language Schools in Cornwall, UK, as Academic/Business Development Manager. With over seven years of experience in the EFL industry, having started her career as an English teacher in China, Jess has also spent three years with Bucksmore Education. She said, “I am very much looking forward to building on my previous experience in the industry to drive SUL forward.”
Ardmore Educational Travel has taken on two new members of staff. Polly Griffith, who has over 10 years’ experience in the educational travel sector, recently joined as General Manager to develop outbound products. Polly commented, “Ardmore has ambitious plans and I’m very excited to be leading such a great team.” Tim Douglas has also joined as Head of School Partnerships where he will be helping to develop Ardmore’s range of programmes. “Ardmore has some unique and exciting products to take to market,” he said.
Jonathan Duignan has opened Chapterhouse Dublin, a school providing General English and specialised programmes for Business and Industry. With over two decades’ experience in ELT teaching, management and marketing, Jonathan has worked at International House, British Council, Kaplan International and has previously served on the board of MEI.
EnglishUSA, the American Association of Intensive English Programs, has appointed Cheryl Delk-Le Good as Executive Director. After a long stint with Georgia State University as Director of their Intensive English Program (IEP), Cheryl’s experience also includes service as a commissioner for the Commission on English Language Accreditation (CEA) and IEP Network Leader for the International Enrollment Management Knowledge Community for Nafsa. She also served on the boards of EnglishUSA and University and College Intensive English Programs (UCIEP). “We are fortunate to welcome such an accomplished industry expert to lead our association,” said Caroline O’Neal, EnglishUSA President. “Cheryl is the ideal person to help drive our vision to be the recognised voice of IEPs in the USA.”
Lana Bernaldo has joined London School of Commerce (LSC) in Malta as International Marketing Officer. Starting her career in tourism in Madrid, Spain, in 2007, Lana then moved to Moscow, Russia, where she worked as a study abroad counsellor. Using her agent background, Lana will be establishing good relations with agents from Spanish- and Russian-speaking countries and to help potential students discover Malta and receive the required information.
Shawn Silverstone is joining Coquitlam School District in British Columbia, Canada, as Marketing Manager International Education. He will be responsible for the research, design, implementation and execution of client-centric International Education Partnerships and Programs. Shawn has 11 years’ experience in the education sector and eight years in international education. He’ll represent the district internationally and will build and maintain relationships around the world.
Torquay International School has appointed Sophie Larkin as Academic Director. Sophie has worked in ELT for 18 years, teacher training and in academic management in England, France and Spain. Having completed her MEd in Tesol at the University of Exeter, she is leaving her teacher training post of five years at IPC Exeter. “I am really looking forward to being part of the creative and vibrant team, where everyone is renowned for their hard work, loyalty and commitment to excellence,” she said. “The challenge and variety of the role makes this an exciting move!”
Q&A Educator association
This month, Sue Blundell, Executive Director of English Australia, talks about goverment policies and the association’s Partner Agency Program.
Full name: English Australia
Year established: 1983
Number of members: 124
Type of members: private and public ELT providers
Association’s main role: Providing leadership and influence as the voice of the industry and support and benefit to members, driving higher levels of professionalism across the industry
Government recognition: yes
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: no
Australia’s Elicos sector is booming at the moment, according to figures from AEI. What do you believe the reasons are for this growth?
Amongst the variety of factors that can influence growth, some of the positives for Australia at the moment are a supportive visa regime, work rights for students during and after study, weaker AUS$, increasing demand for English programs packaged with higher education, and negative developments in some of our competitor countries.
What has English Australia been up to over the past 12 months to support this growth?
Wow, lots! We have been working closely with various government departments to ensure positive policy settings for the sector. We also launched our new Partner Agency Program to support quality agents and of course we continue to provide our members with regular intelligence updates to help inform their activities. Growth in the number of students leads to the need for more teachers we releasd a new Best Practice Guide in Managing Staff Development to support our members in making sure their staff have the skills they need to ensure quality outcomes for our students.
How are preparations for this year’s conference in Brisbane going? What can delegates expect this year?
Queensland is always a great host for our conference, attracting the largest number of delegates. We have some great keynote speakers, as well as strong streams for marketing and management staff. All key government and regulator stakeholders will be attending/presenting to reinforce the strong mood of collaboration.
How is English Australia’s Partner Agency Program going? How many members do you have on the programme? What are the benefits for an agency to join?
The programme is proving very popular, with 220 agency offices already listed on our website with a profile. The benefits for agents are significant: students can find their services easily through our website, they are associated with a quality brand and they get access to updates from us that keep them connected with what is happening in Australia.
How do you think the new tax arrangements on working holiday visa earnings (from July 1, 2016) will impact on Australia’s Elicos sector?
It is worth noting that working holiday visa holders contribute just 11 per cent of English language students, so whilst this is certainly a negative development it should not impact the overall numbers too much. In fact we may experience a boost in 2015/2016 prior to the new tax arrangements coming into effect!
What does the association have planned for the next 12 months?
The new CEO, Brett Blacker, will be driving our activities over the next 12 months, but what we do know is that it will be a very busy time in the area of government policy with a number of positive reforms being rolled out, including the new simplified visas and a new simplified regulatory regime. All good news for agents and students.
Q&A Agency association
This month, we interview Pina Foti, Honorary President of Ialca in Italy.
Full name of association: Italian Association of Language Consultants and Agents
Year established: 1997
Number of members: 20
Type of members: Language Consultants and Travel Agents
Association’s main role: To promote the image and credibility of Italian language and education consultants and to improve the quality of services offered to Italian students.
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: yes
What has been the main focus of IALCA over the last 12 months? Did the planned marketing projects in 2014 go well?
The planned marketing projects went very well. Ialca attended the Quality English (QE) mission held in February in Milano and gave a presentation of the Italian market. Ialca is also supporting 2015 QE mission in Rome.
During the last 12 months, Ialca had several meetings with Fiavet [Italian Federation of Travel and Tourism Company], which have been about reaching a conclusion for a potential agreement, focused on PON projects guidelines and bullet points.
At the beginning of 2015, Ialca had a meeting with British Council in London. The focus was PON Projects. Ialca has highlighted the importance of working in Italy through agents and what would be the ‘best practices’ about PON Projects. We have also highlighted the serious concern about payment delays and the new rules about the electronic invoice. The same issue has been Ialca’s main focus during the English UK mission in Napoli, in June.
[We have been working] with Canadian institutions [with a view to] a possible cooperation with Ialca. A meeting with Italian agents has been scheduled for the third week of February 2016. The following ideas and suggestions for the meeting have been developed: workshops, web conference for those agencies that couldn’t attend the meeting, and a press release.
In our last Q&A, you said you were planning a fam trip to China. Has this happened, and if so, was it successful? Do you have any other fam trips planned for 2015?
Ialca has been one of the stakeholders of the European Projects Grundtvig ‘Let’s Go’, which ended in June 2015. [The project involved adult learners, staff and teachers of the partner institutions and relevant associations and aimed to provide opportunities to: learn new cultures via language learning and vice versa; increase motivation for language learning; and improve knowledge/skills and develop personal qualities.] This huge project involved the participation of 12 Ialca members in different countries, such as Iceland, Norway, Turkey, Poland, Croatia and French Guiana. In order to concentrate as many efforts available on the ‘Let’s Go’ project, Ialca has decided to postpone the fam trip to China until 2016.
How has the expansion of the PON scheme (across all regions, until 2020) affected Italian agencies?
We are still concluding a few PON left from 2014, the new ones will start next September 2015. The market in Italy regarding study abroad is going, as usual, well. There is a steady number of students to maintain the business, as well as the PON project.
Italian agencies reported a 3.9 per cent growth in StudyTravel Magazine’s agency survey in January 2015. Is this similar to what IALCA members are experiencing?
Yes, it is. In this economical period of crisis it is an outstanding result for Italian agencies.
Do you anticipate any challenges for Italian agents in the future?
Ialca’s intention is to produce a document together with Italian Ministry of Tourism, British Council and English UK. The document will contain prompt suggestions to avoid critical issues and particularly to avoid that Ialca members (and therefore our country) continue to export a not too clear image of the situation. The aim of the document is as follows: 1) Give the suggestion of family accommodation for students and hotel (maximum three stars) for tutors. 2) Choose different locations from London and Dublin. 3) VAT according to law 74 [invoicing]. 4) To produce a list of agencies for 2014 tenders, if available, for a greater transparency.
Do you have any other marketing projects planned for 2016?
Ialca is evaluating the possibility of accreditation for agents, who already use other markets. In these terms, Ialca has already made contacts with organisations such as ICEF, English Australia and Languages Canada for a collective agreement.
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. What is your preferred method of keeping in contact with your partner schools?
Faten Ben Ali, Travel & Study Tunisia, Tunisia
“When meeting with my partner schools for the first time, face-to-face is my preferred method of contact. Fam trips come in second place when it is a European partner school at just two- or three-hour flight from [the student’s] home country. It is definitely required to build trust and a relationship with school senior management. Having closer knowledge of offers, programmes and facilities of the school in question is obviously recommended. Of course, this varies depending on location. For USA and Canada, these trips couldn’t be always possible because of the long distance and the agent’s tight budget to consider with the airfare, visa and other personal expenses.
Video conferences, emails and phone calls always remain the most practical and flexible methods to keep in contact with our partners, especially when they are highly responsive. The more we know, the better we promote the school programmes in our market, the more we recruit and attract potential students to their market.”
Daniela Pavoni, Mirunette International Education, Romania
“In the very beginning, one of the triggers we need is a very appealing and real description of the programmes offered, a unique selling point and definitely a reference. Then meeting face-to-face is the next step. Most of the time this happens during the workshops. There is a moment within 10-15 minutes when you find out if you click or not with that provider. I can say I had meetings where the staff were not so helpful, whereas some others during visits or informal meetings offered a valuable bunch of information.
Conferences are also useful because the speaker is more prepared and specific. But they must be accompanied by a Q&A session. Whichever it is, workshop or conference, it has no value without a visit of the centre/school. It does not depend on location, but of the way you see and feel the place, the people and the environment, the students studying there. After the visit the fast responsiveness via e-mail and/or phone is of paramount importance.”
Jocélis Templeman, Mundo4u, Brazil
“I believe it is extremely important for our business to meet our partners face- to-face. The conferences, workshops and fam trips are essential to approach agencies and schools. Ideally, it would be good to visit the schools in person. However, as we work with many schools all over the world, it is not always practical.
The opportunity to meet the school’s representative instils more confidence in us to work with our partner. Once we trust the quality of the school and its courses, we will be able to place students with confidence. As a result of that, we will have more sales! Therefore, meeting face-to-face is essential for building a good business relationship between schools and agencies.”
Suad Alhalwachi, Education Zone, UAE
“Over the years we noticed that the school visits, emails, phone calls, fam trips, etc. of staying in touch with the agents is overwhelming and we need a staff member just to do these things. Sometimes it’s so much that we cannot do our work of bringing students. Our core work is to cover our cost, and with losing sometimes the whole week in meetings or trips, we cannot generate business. Also we noticed that most of the schools have opened branches for marketing in our countries, so our scope has become so thin.”
Anne Peneluppi, Enjoy Intercâmbio, Ireland
“I certainly prefer to meet face-to-face all our school partners. I think that at least one visit has to be made to get to know the people I am working with personally. However, I know that depending on the location of the school, this would be a very hard task, so conferences can be good substitutes when fam trips are not possible. Nevertheless, I think email is the most important tool we have to communicate and record important information in a day-to-day situation. Finally, because we ‘wear the students’ shoes’ we want to be sure that we are offering an experience to our customer that’s going to be one of the greatest of their lives, so we need to be sure that our partner schools have a great standard of quality and resources and still keep the humanistic side in this business, because in the end we are dealing with people’s needs, desires and, very often, dreams.”
Martin Pickett, LANACOS, UK
“Face-to-face visits are my preferred method because you can soon tell if you are dealing with a serious quality provider. Websites and phone calls can be extremely misleading. There are some awful schools with excellent websites and some quality providers with unbelievably bad websites and use of technology.
In terms of business communication, I prefer emails because everything is in writing. I have noticed that the phone call is ‘open to interpretation’ and nothing is on the record. Be very wary of promises on the phone; they are worthless unless you know the other person has integrity.
Fam trips in theory are a good idea. A few fam trips are excellent, you visit the school and the surrounding area, you don’t waste time and you meet some interesting agents. Other fam trips (and they are more numerous) are just ‘sales presentations’ and sometimes you wonder why you bothered.”
Agency of the month
In a series appearing each month in StudyTravel Magazine, we ask a different teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or advisor partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.
This month, Language Studies International, international, nominates Metzenbauer Sprach- und Studienreisen in Switzerland. Andras Zareczky at the company explains this decision.
“Over its 50 years of existence, LSI has had the pleasure to work with many excellent agents. We would like to highlight one of these top partners: Herr Werner Metzenbauer of Brig, Switzerland. Werner has always worked in the travel industry, and it was two decades ago that he turned all his attention to deal with study travel. Not only is Werner a meticulous agent always interested in the personality, the family background and the preferences of his clients but he is also a colourful personality. Apart from his native language, he speaks French and English with elegance, he is an experienced traveller himself. He has visited all the LSI schools to see our locations, chat to our staff and absorb the local atmosphere, all this in order to give the best recommendations to his clients. We also admire Werner’s energy. Metzenbauer Sprach- und Studienreisen is run primarily by Werner himself. We hope to have Werner Metzenbauer among our work partners for many years to come.”
“Thanks to everyone at the worldwide Language Studies International team. Since 1989, Metzenbauer trusts in partners with a strong focus on quality and students’ wellbeing. I appreciate the long-term trustful, warm and well-organised working relationship and open communication and, if needed, straightforward solutions, with various LSI departments and school team members in different countries during good times and a few difficult* times (*thinking about political, environmental and other reasons). Together we’re making our students happy and smiling. A special thanks goes to Viviane Steiner for introducing me to LSI after arriving a few minutes before closing time, and without an appointment, at the LSI London school two decades ago. A few weeks afterwards, the first student from Metzenbauer had arrived at LSI London.”
Werner Metzenbauer, Metzenbauer Sprach- und Studienreisen, Switzerland
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