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September 2006 issue

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Canada's mix

English language schools in Canada experienced mixed fortunes over the past 12 months. Bethan Norris finds out about the strengthening Canadian dollar and increased work rights for international students.

After what was generally reported to be a good year in 2005, some language schools in Canada point out that the beginning of 2006 saw international enrolments increase with the opening up of new student markets. “Our student numbers are up this year for both adult and teen programmes,” confirms Anthony Stille, Director of English School of Canada in Toronto, ONT. “We have had some successful marketing trips to Brazil, Mexico, Korea and Taiwan, and this seems to have had a significant impact on our overall numbers.”

Ken Gardner from Vancouver English Centre in Vancouver, BC, also reports a positive 12 months. “Our numbers have increased by approximately 15 per cent over the previous year,” he says, adding that they have recently increased their marketing budget and while some student markets, such as Korea, have declined, “they have been replaced by other students from Latin America and the Middle East”.

Other schools, however, relate less positive experiences, with George Jasper at the Language Repair Shop in Vancouver, BC reporting that student numbers at the school are “down 10 per cent” on the previous year, largely due to “overseas competition”. Gary Gervais from Heartland International English School in Winnipeg, MN, notes that while Mexico has been performing well recently, overall, “the strength of the Canadian dollar has had a negative impact on enrolments”.

With such diverse factors influencing the market in Canada, it is difficult to highlight unilateral trends. However, Korea and Japan remain key student markets while most schools have noted increased interest from new markets – largely South America and the Middle East, which have been performing well in the last 12 months. “Brazil has exploded as have other markets such as Spain and Saudi Arabia,” says Stille. “Canada as an educational destination has received increasing attention in Brazil and the problems with obtaining US visas have helped... Canada.” He adds,“Saudi Arabians also seem to be shifting away from the USA towards Canada.”

Increasing Canada’s profile as a study destination is a priority for the marketing departments of individual schools, but, until recently, Canada’s government has been slow to follow the lead of rival destinations such as Australia and the UK and develop an international student recruitment strategy. However, developments such as a welcome change to work rights for full-time international students (see left) and attention to quality standards herald an ongoing change in attitude towards this lucrative industry, and provincial governments have also been increasingly active in marketing their educational opportunities overseas.

“The Ontario government, specifically the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, is making a great commitment and effort in helping the recruitment efforts of post-secondary institutions,” says Helen Chadwick from St Lawrence College in Kingston, ONT. “They have committed resources towards show attendance, website development and the creation of collateral materials.”

In the absence of a national recruitment strategy, however, many private language schools are relying on their own marketing efforts, and keeping a continuing eye on developing new courses, to improve enrolment figures and tap into new markets. Janice Ferguson from Mount Royal College in Calgary, AB, says that the college is to start offering Business English certificate courses at the end of this year, while Barbara Yates from Queens University in Kingston, ONT, says that have also acknowledged an increased demand for work-related language courses through the development of their 13-week Business internship programme.

An increased interest among students for language courses that prepare them for further study in the tertiary sector is also a trend noted by Christine Brassard at College Platon in Montreal, QB, who notes, “With more students coming to do the Toefl exam we have incorporated some Toefl listening comprehension and vocabulary building into the higher [course] levels.”

Brassard underlines that continued marketing efforts are important for ensuring stable student numbers. “I think that attending student fairs regularly and keeping in close contact with our agents helps to promote the school,” she says. In Nova Scotia, Christine Wall from East Coast School of Languages (ECSL) in Halifax, NS, adds, “We hope to draw students from new markets like Europe as a follow-up to fairs ECSL participated in and will participate in.”

Work permits for full-time students

One of the most significant events to occur in Canada’s international education industry over the last 12 months was the introduction of a nationwide system allowing full-time international students studying for more than six months at tertiary institutions in Canada the chance to work off-campus for up to 20 hours a week (see Education Travel Magazine, March 2006, page 53).

This development puts Canada in line with many other popular study destinations, and although the rule is currently not applicable to language students, many in the industry believe the change will have a positive effect across all sectors.

“I think the off-campus work permit [rule] will continue to drive up enrolments in academic and career programmes,” says Nadina Dodd from Vancouver Community College International in Vancouver, BC, who adds that some of their student applications for permits have already been successful. “These programmes also feed into our ESL programmes when students need to do a bit of English upgrading so we may also see a slight increase in ESL [enrolments].”

English language students with long-term study plans will also benefit. Mark Herringer from the international recruitment office at Malaspina University College in Nanaimo, BC, says, “It has positively affected our retention rates and will positively impact on our recruitment as word-of-mouth gets out that part-time jobs are plentiful in most locations in Canada.”

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

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





Education New
       Zealand Trust
English Australia
English UK
Fedele Agent
Turlingua -
       Consortium of
       Language Travel
       and Tourism

English Australia
Fedele Agent
Mystery Agent Event
       in Toronto (ILAC -
       Language Academy
       of Canada)

Malta Tourism
Step Up Study
       Abroad Information
       Center (Japan)

Language Travel
       Phone Card

English Australia
Global Village Noosa
International Student
       Placement Centre
Language Studies
       University of
       International College
St Paul's School
University of
       Western Australia

Brock University
Business English
       School of Toronto
Cowichan Valley
       School District #79
George Brown -
       The Toronto City
ILAC - International
       Language Academy
       of Canada
Malaspina University
Niagara College
Thompson Rivers
University of

Mandarin House

Adventure and
       Computer Holidays
Aspect (Australia,
       Canada, England,
       France, Germany,
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Bell International
       (Malta, UK)
Berlitz Language
       Centre - Oxford
Better English
Canning School
English Centre at the
       Hampstead Garden
       Suburb Institute
English Language
       (England, Scotland)
English UK
Harrow House
InTuition Languages
       (Australia, France,
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       America, Spain, UK,
LAL Language and
Languages Out
       There (England,
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Living Learning
Lydbury English
Malvern House
Queen Ethelburga's
       (Australia, Canada,
       China, Cuba,
       England, France,
       Germany, Italy,
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St Giles Colleges
       (UK, USA)
Study Group
       (Australia, Canada,
       England, France,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, New Zealand,
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       Spain, USA)
Twin Group
West London
       Business College

Accent Français
EICAR- Paris
       International Film

inlingua Berlin
Prolog- International
       House Berlin

Alpha College of
Emerald Cultural

Step Up Study
       Abroad Information
inlingua Malta
Malta Tourism

Education New
       Zealand Trust

Language Link,
Liden & Denz
       Language Centre

inlingua Singapore

Escuela de Español
       la Brisa S.L.
Kingsbrook -
       Spanish for
Malaca Instituto -
       Club Hispánico SL
ONECO - the training
Turlingua -
       Consortium of
       Language Travel
       and Tourism

EF Language
       Colleges Ltd
       (Australia, Canada,
       China, Ecuador,
       England, France,
       Germany, Ireland,
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       Zealand, Russia,
       Scotland, Spain,

American Language
Kaplan Educational
       Centers (Canada,
       England, USA)
University of
       California San Diego
University of
       California Santa
University of Illinois
       at Urbana-
Zoni Language


Archer Education
Delta School District
Richmond School
       District #38

Queen Ethelburga's

Bay of Plenty
Eastern Institute of
Wellington Institute
       of Technology