By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

Over the last week we’ve had a few interesting news stories on the activities of national agency associations, highlighting the benefits of being part of a wider organisation that seeks to raise standards within the industry and benefit the sector as a whole.

We reported on a market intelligence collaboration between Japanese association JAOS and the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), which gathered opinions from JAOS members on positive and negative perceptions of Australia as a study destination, and advice for schools on how best to position themselves in the Japanese market.

While overall impressions among the agents surveyed were high, it was noted that Australia’s market share was under threat from Canada, New Zealand and the Philippines – all of which have made conscious efforts to court Japanese students – while the increasing cost of Australian tuition has negated its previous price advantage over the UK and the USA.

Recommendations included demonstrating how Australia can cater to the Japanese corporate demand for Global Human Capital (GHC), highlighting the suite of language plus programmes in the country, and emphasising the relative safety of Australia – a key concern of Japanese students and parents.

In the report, Austrade made clear the benefits of working with agents in Japan, and indeed re-energising existing agency relationships. It highlighted that JAOS and Japanese agents are remarkably well connected in terms of relations with national and prefectural governments and even universities, some of which are now outsourcing their study abroad services to agents.

Over in neighbouring Korea, we hear today that membership of agency association KOSA is set to expand, ahead forthcoming legislation that will regulate the activities of agencies.

KOSA has been fundamental in the drafting of the legislation, and Secretary General Kidong Kim relates that over 30 current applicants clearly feel it would be beneficial to join KOSA now before the legislation – expected in December – takes effect. Ideally, it shouldn’t have to take the spectre of government rules to convince agencies to join an association, but any developments that lead to wider acceptance of the Felca code of conduct and a raising of standards in the industry are to be welcomed.

In Brazil, meanwhile, agency association Belta has entered into a partnership with the national tourism association and other tourism bodies, a move that it hopes will place the Brazilian study abroad industry firmly in the heart of national tourism development, and will promote Belta’s own code of conduct, starting with exposure at one of the largest tourism trade expos in Latin America later this year.

All in all, three welcome examples of association engagement with national governments and organisations for the good of the study abroad industry.

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