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September 2006 issue

Travel News
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Agency Survey
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Course Guide
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Host family crisis in Malta

SINCE the issue of taxing host families was raised by the Maltese government last year (see Language Travel Magazine, August 2005, page 7), family accommodation for students in Malta has been a difficult issue for some schools.New rules requiring host
families to pay VAT on host family income has resulted in fewer households being willing to host students. Some schools have been forced to house students in hotels this summer – with complaints from other residents ensuing – or turn down bookings.

The Shadow Minister for Tourism, Evarist Bartolo, accused the government of mishandling the issue in a letter to the Times of Malta – families were informed of the new tax rules at the start of the summer season instead of during winter. By mid-June, the number of families registered with the Malta Tourism Authority as host families had dropped from 2,013 in 2005 to just 876.

John Dimech, President of Maltese language school association, Feltom, acknowledged that the new guidelines about the taxation plan – which is considered fair, he reports, by the General Retailers Trade Union (GRTU) – were badly timed. “Despite our strong recommendations last year, Minister Tonio Fenech’s letter has been badly timed, right at the start of the peak season and this caused a lot of unnecessary alarm,” he said.

The problem seems to be the fact that taxation of host families has not previously been required and also that the new guidelines insist that social security contributions are paid from 2006 onwards if income exceeds ML3,100 (US$9,145). “In reality, families can have the [host family] licence in the husband’s name and avoid paying contributions if he works already,” said Dimech. “The examples in Fenech’s letter do not suggest this alternative and… we did not have much time to inform families accordingly.”

Host families are now entitled to earn ML1,000 (US$2,950) before paying tax on 35 per cent of the rest of their income earned from students. The other 65 per cent of income is considered as expenses incurred for hosting the students.

At Educational English Culture in Kappara, Renato Valente told a local newspaper that agents were diverting business to the UK, where accommodation provision was more stable. His institution had spent ML2,000 (US$5,900) on advertising for host families, he said. “The net result was that we attracted seven to ten host families, but we have lost 100 registered host families who have worked for our organisation for the past decade.”

Another school source based in Sliema told Language Travel Magazine, “This year, it has been very, very difficult to find host families and we don’t want to turn students away. So far we have managed to find a place for everyone, but it just causes more stress in an already stressful period of the year.”

There is anger in the industry that the government seems to be thwarting what is one of the most buoyant tourism sectors. Dimech said there was enough hotel capacity to accommodate students because the mainstream tourism sector is performing less well. The problem “could rock the sector,” he said, “[which] grew by 10 per cent in 2005.” He added that schools had been burdened with the extra fiscal responsibilities relating to VAT payments of families.

OISE buys two Hawthorn schools

LANGUAGE school chain, OISE, has further expanded its reach by buying two schools previously owned by the Hawthorn brand, which operates out of the University of Melbourne in Australia.

Hawthorn Edinburgh and Hawthorn Vancouver will both be returned to their former school names, Edinburgh School of English and the Canada Language Centre. The University of Melbourne sold the schools as part of a restructure and new strategic vision, “Growing Esteem”, said Allan Tait, Vice Principal at the university. The remaining Hawthorn English Language Centres will continue to operate as normal in Melbourne, Singapore and Muscat.

Till Gins, Managing Director of OISE, explained that he “could see the commonality in these two schools” and explained, “I knew Edinburgh School of English very well and I knew it was a very good school. Canada Language Centre was one of the oldest and first schools in Canada and very well established.”

Following this purchase, Gins hinted that further expansion in Canada is the next step in the OISE game plan, which sees the OISE Group buying up well established older schools that need investment to ensure they can remain competitive.

“I’m actually very proud of having these two schools and taking them further, continuing the work of the original owners [Martin and Margot Huggins in Edinburgh and Al Stusiak in Vancouver],” said Gins. “I also feel it consolidates our position as the group that owns and runs the collection of the best long-standing schools in the EFL world. That’s what we do well because we enjoy doing it.”

Ireland and Japan sign working holiday deal

GREATER working opportunities in Ireland will soon be on the cards for Japanese students, thanks to the signing of a Working Holiday visa agreement between the two countries. Taking effect from I January 2007, the new agreement will mean Japanese and Irish young people can work in each other’s countries for up to 12 months.

Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Michael Martin, said the new programme would “provide young people in Ireland and Japan with a chance to travel, to learn more about each others’ countries and to build [international] friendships”.

At English language schools’ association, MEI~Relsa, Director, Brian Burns commented, “Compared with other larger English speaking countries, Ireland is still relatively unknown in Japan. The new working holiday programme will be promoted throughout Japan and should help place Ireland on the map amongst agents and potential students.”

He said that he expected English language schools in the country to develop working holiday programmes that would incorporate an induction course, English language training programme and then paid work placement.

In other news in Ireland, membership of MEI~Relsa has increased since new categories of membership for summer schools have been introduced. Current membership now stands at 62 schools, and further members are expected to join in the future.

New trendy living concept for London

STUDENTS in London, UK, can choose from an entirely new style of accommodation from September next year. As well as host family or residential dormitory-style accommodation, Nido Student Living will be offering studio-style living within a building housing 846
rooms on 16 floors. The option to share with a friend – using a communal kitchen – is also offered from the latest student accommodation provider on the scene, providing what it terms the “newest way of living student life” in the King’s Cross area of London.

All students will have access to a resident student services manager and facilities that include separate study rooms, a gym and fitness centre. Services such as room (cube) cleaning and laundry pick-up will also be offered as extras. Nido London also has space that can be used as classrooms and faculty offices.

Nido Student Living is aimed at all types of students, from short-term study abroad students to postgraduates. “There is a staggering lack of quality student accommodation to support [students in London],” said Nido London’s spokesperson, Maureen McDermott, who claimed, “British universities provide accommodation for less than a quarter of potential [student] demand.”

China promotes Mandarin study

CHINA has launched a website that offers free Mandarin lessons and study materials, It is hoped that the site, which is only available in English and Chinese at present, will encourage interest in Mandarin language learning overseas. Versions of the website in Japanese and Korean are also being developed.

Interactive excercises, resources for teachers and audio-visual presentations of famous landmarks and cultural icons are included on the website. The Chinese Ministry of Education has also revealed that it plans to set up more Confucius Institutes around the world to promote Chinese culture. There is currently a Confucius Institute in South Korea, Sweden and Germany.

DMGT to sell Study Group

The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), owners of Study Group, are looking to sell their shares in the company and an announcement was imminent at the time of going to press.

Nick Tellwright, Group Marketing Director at Study Group, explained that the company has definite growth plans following a good year last year and a very succesful 2006. “We believe, and DMGT shares this view, that the time is right [to attract new investment],” he said. “Our growth plans focus on expanding our university partnerships [see page 49], developing our programme range, opening new centres and extending our marketing reach.”

The company was valued at UK£80 million (US$148 million) in a Sunday Times report.

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,
       Ireland, Malta,
       New Zealand,
       Scotland, South
       Africa, Spain, USA)
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,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, South
       America, Spain, UK,
LAL Language and
Languages Out
       There (England,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, Spain)
Living Learning
Lydbury English
Malvern House
Queen Ethelburga's
       (Australia, Canada,
       China, Cuba,
       England, France,
       Germany, Italy,
       Spain, USA)
St Giles Colleges
       (UK, USA)
Study Group
       (Australia, Canada,
       England, France,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, New Zealand,
       South Africa,
       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,
       Italy, Malta, New
       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