Felca and Gaela focus on global trends

10 September, 2015

National language school and agency associations gathered in London last week to present key market data and trends from both sides of the study travel industry.

Scott Wade presents Felca member data to study travel industry figures at the Felca/Gaela meeting

The Federation of Education and Language Consultant Associations (FELCA), which presented its member data for the first time last year, was joined this year by 11 national members of the Global Alliance of Education and Language Associations (GAELA), for a special event held before the StudyTravel Alphe UK Conference.

The heads of EnglishUSA and English UK articulated concerns about strong currencies. Cheryl Delk-Le Good, Executive Director of the former, referred to a recent survey in which less than 30 per cent of members expected increases in summer and autumn intake.

Eddie Byers, CEO of English UK, said, “The pound is a real challenge,” but also highlighted the growing market share of juniors, accounting for 47 per cent in 2014.

Conversely, Marketing English in Ireland (MEI) CEO, David O’Grady, said MEI had seen membership growth and that members were reporting 2015 to be a “good year”. Ireland is thought to have benefitted from no exchange rates within the Eurozone.

The significant market share of national member school associations was a common theme through the data presentations: English Australia represents 45 per cent of all registered language schools, but 88 per cent of students; 46 per cent of private language schools are English New Zealand members, but the association accounted for 81 per cent of students; and Malta’s association Feltom has 41 per cent of schools but 86 per cent of incoming students.

Pathways programmes were highlighted as a major component of the language travel industry, accounting for 39 per cent of all visa students at English Australia schools and 35 per cent of students at Languages Canada member schools are studying with further study intended. 

Groupement FLE, one of three non-English language school associations, said there were 132,000 language students in France in 2014, according to a first-ever industry survey of the 90 schools with the Qualité FLE accreditation label, with an average of 4.6 weeks and Germany cited as the top source country.

Government policies were another common theme for Gaela members, most pressingly for Education South Africa (EduSA), which is lobbying over recognition of language programmes, and Languages Canada, which is pursuing advocacy efforts in provinces that have yet to establish designation regulations. More positively, Rob McKay, representative of English New Zealand, said that the government was “very friendly” and that strong growth from Colombia was “entirely driven by work rights”. 

McKay also recommended that agents utilise the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) website to conduct due diligence on the category (risk rating) of potential partner schools.

From the agency side, Scott Wade, Director of StudyTravel and Coordinator of Felca, presented an overview of data from the agency associations, highlighting growth trends, opportunities and challenges faced in the respective markets.

Batting against a weakened rouble, the Russian agency association AREA registered a 20 per cent decline last year; but more positive trends were recorded by TIECA in Thailand at 40.7 per cent, as well as BELTA in Brazil (15 per cent), IALCA in Italy (four) and JAOS of Japan (three).

Belta has experienced difficulties in promoting the UK since the closure of the UK consulate meaning documents have to be sent to Colombia, while TIECA said the UK’s introduction of biometric testing and the immigration health surcharge were challenges.

Taiwanese association IECA reported on the creation of a ‘study group’ deposit committee to arrange insurance cover for group bookings, with 28 members currently signed up.

Several agency associations are benefitting from government study abroad initiatives: members of AREA are working on a Russian government scholarship scheme for overseas postgraduate study; JAOS is experiencing growth, particularly in the junior market, from government scholarships and Ministry of Education plans to double study abroad by 2020; and IALCA is actively involved in Italy’s PON language scholarship.

The annual FELCA/GAELA meetings are held prior to ST Alphe UK each year. Click here for a gallery of the meetings.

Matthew Knott
News Editor


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