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Agents, schools and the future of language tourism

September 07, 2007

Hello again.

This week in London the annual Study World agents workshop took place in London. Such fairs are a regular feature...

... of the language travel calendar, with both agents and schools relying heavily on the networking opportunities they create.

Of course agents play an important role in placing students but for their services they take a sizeable slice of the financial cake. Needless to say the marketing budget reduces the amount of available money for teachers, who, as we saw in a recent entry, are often hired on insultingly low wages.

Do agents add to the spiralling costs of courses? And does it matter? It seems to me that we need to pause and try to look ahead at the future of language tourism. Although the actual figures are hotly disputed, language tourism contributes a hefty sum to the British economy and is the trigger for additional fee revenue as overseas students feed into higher education. No doubt the same is true for other major course providers such as the USA, Canada and Australia. And of course these countries are in competition with each other.

For EU students, the UK is the obvious choice as European citizens have freedom of movement across the EU. But the UK seems to me to be increasingly at a disadvantage. The cost of courses and the cost of living are extremely high. On the other hand, The US dollar’s weakness must make it financially more attractive to foreign students than ever. This summer the months of July and August saw some abysmal weather in the UK. England’s green and pleasant land does not seem quite so inviting when the rain falls incessantly. On top of this we have the money markets in a state of flux. One last spanner in the works is the fiasco over ESOL fees: many students who last year qualified for free courses will this year have to pay.

It seems to me that the UK needs to look long and hard at these facts and ponder over the future of language tourism to its shores. All sorts of new study modes and an increasing presence of countries such as Malta as course providers are additional threats to this lucrative industry. Add the government’s desire for compulsory accreditation for language schools and I think we could see a considerable shock wave in the private sector over the coming years.

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Comments

  1. Mohamed Souissy Says:

    PROFESSOR BRENDA TOWNSEND HALL

    باسم الله الرحمان الرحيم


    السلام عليكم

    HAPPY NEW YEARS
    (ISLAMIC AND WESTERN)
    AND BEST WISHES FOR THE FUTURE

    و السلام عليكم

    كل عام و أنتم بخير

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