By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

Yesterday we brought you the news that Australia’s English language sector has well and truly bounced back, recording bumper growth of 19 per cent in student numbers and 25 per cent in student weeks in 2013.

As Sue Blundell, Executive Director of language school association and peak body English Australia, explained, a number of factors lie behind the increase, including a more favourable exchange rate, improved post-study opportunities in Australia and negative developments in competitor destinations. A key element of the growth, she said, was English language packaged with higher education.

There was growth across all of the top ten source markets and increases in all of the major visa categories, suggesting there is a diversity and depth to the growth that should help to insulate Australia’s Elicos industry from future shocks or downturns.

While the Asia Pacific region remains the major source region for Australian providers, there was pleasing long-haul growth from Latin America and Europe, with compelling evidence that Brazil’s Science without Borders scholarship programme is benefitting the whole of the international education industry, not just the higher education sectors: Elicos enrolments from Brazil grew 21 per cent in 2013.

Such long-haul market and academic preparation growth most likely fuelled the increase to an average course length of 12.9 weeks – up from 12.3 weeks in 2012 and the longest ever recorded in the annual surveys by English Australia.

Year-to-date data released by Australian Education International (AEI), meanwhile, shows even stronger growth for the first three of months of 2014, with a 30.3 per cent increase in enrolments compared with the same period last year, and the international education export industry as a whole registered a 20.5 per cent rise in commencements and a 9.9 per cent jump in total enrolments.

Another news story on 2013 business trends, this time from the agency perspective in Germany, unveiled a very eye-catching aspect. For the first time, German agency association FDSV has recorded foreign-language summer camps and programmes within Germany and neighbouring German-speaking countries within its destination data.

Such programmes accounted for 9.56 per cent of bookings in the junior segment, and it is interesting to note that German agents have been able to spot a growing demand and sell domestic-based English (or other) programmes in this way. FDSV Spokesperson Julia Richter said many younger students were looking to start first language travel experiences closer to home, and “first” may be a key word here: a client on a domestic-based programme this year may turn into a study travel student next year.

The FDSV survey also revealed that only 1.93 per cent of clients in 2013 registered a complaint – a solid endorsement of the quality of the agency service and language programmes they are selling.

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