English dominates German agency business

08 May, 2014

The share of English course bookings for the German outbound study abroad industry increased in 2013, according to the annual market analysis by the country’s language tour operator association FDSV.

The 2013 survey of business trends, conducted in collaboration with the University of Heilbronn and completed by over 100 agents and tour operators, found 85.63 per cent of students chose English language programmes, compared with 82.62 per cent in the previous year.

In the adult market, the market share of English study rose from 64.06 per cent to 68.07 per cent in 2013. The junior sector remains overwhelmingly dominated by English bookings, registering a slight rise to 93.68 per cent. As a share of total outbound business, the junior market increased in importance, rising from 62.98 per cent in 2012 to 68.57 per cent last year.

Spanish (5.81 per cent overall share), French (5.22 per cent) and Italian (1.68 per cent) were the next most requested languages, but all suffered a minor decline of market share. Chinese and Japanese programmes remained steady, while Russian and other languages increased slightly.

The UK remains comfortably the most popular language study destination but experienced a decline of market share, down from 57.51 per cent in 2012 to 52.86 per cent last year. The UK accounted for 23.58 per cent of adult business (down from 25.46 per cent in 2012) and 66.19 per cent of the junior market (down from 75.23 per cent).

Malta, the second most popular destination increased one point to 14.80 per cent market share, while longer-haul English-speaking countries Canada, the USA, New Zealand and South Africa gained share.

For the first time in the 2013 survey, FDSV has included bookings for foreign language programmes undertaken in Germany or other German-speaking countries, which accounted for 6.57 per cent of overall business, and 9.56 per cent of the junior market.

“This category is new in our survey of 2013, as we see a growing demand and more offers from German language tour operators for German language students,” said FDSV Spokesperson, Julia Richter. She added that such programmes in Germany, Austria and Switzerland were not new, but there was a development of younger students looking to make their first language experience closer to home and that agents have moved to cater to this demand.

Despite the decline in market share, the UK did record an increase in student weeks from FDSV members; a slight rise in average course length in the UK to 2.01 weeks lead to a total of 53,473 weeks, compared with 53,463 in 2012.

In terms of student weeks, there was an overall increase in business recorded, according to FDSV’s analysis, increasing from 104,678 in 2012 to 110,442 last year. Student weeks to the USA almost doubled to 13,544, driven by an average course length rise from 3.34 to 4.80 weeks. There were also student week growth registered for Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Latin America, Italy, Asia and Russia.

The 14-to-17 age group constituted over half of bookings for survey participants (53.22 per cent), followed by the 18-to-30 group (26.65 per cent) and the 6-to-13 group (15.43). The 31-to-49 age category and the 50+ sectors accounted for around 10 per cent and five per cent respectively.

The 2013 FDSV analysis also recorded a complaint rate of 1.94 per cent, indicating a high level of satisfaction in the agency service.

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