The IALC 2017 Research on the Student Experience was commissioned by IALC and conducted by StudentMarketing, and is based on 4,755 student responses from 136 countries.
The initial findings were presented by Patrik Pavlacic, Head of Research of StudentMarketing, and Jan Capper, Executive Director of IALC, during the recent IALC 2017 Boston Workshop.
Nine out of 10 respondents said they would choose the same language school and 88 per cent indicated they would choose the same language course, while 94 per cent said they would recommend their school to a friend, Patrik said.
Around half of the respondents booked their course at an IALC school through some kind of agency, which was broken down as: education agency (26 per cent); through a local institution (7); tour operator (5); online language course/listing portal (4); student tour operator (3); through a company (3) and other (3).
However, Patrik said the importance of agents was probably under-represented in the findings because 25 per cent of those that booked direct had approached an agent, but didn't book through them. He added the students that utulised agencies but didn't book through them approached an average of two agencies.
In terms of student assessment of the accuracy of the information they received prior to their course, the highest ranking factors were school location, course price and fees - both rated as more than 90 per cent accurate. The lowest measures were use of technology in teaching and nationality mix at the school.
The highest scores for fulfilment of expectations were school atmosphere, experiencing another culture and teaching, which were all above 80 per cent either met or exceeded expectations. In contrast, the lowest scores were mostly for accommodation factors, such as meals, facilities and location.
One of the key initial findings of the research was that satisfaction with a programme appears to grow with time: 76 per cent of former students were either much more or slightly more satisfied than expected, compared with 60 per cent of current students.
In a self-assessment of progress in learning a language, the highest score on a scale of 0 (no progress) to 5 (delighted with progress) was listening comprehension at an average of 3.71, while the lowest was writing skills at 3.19.
The researchers also found that 18 per cent of student respondents were aware that the school was an IALC member when they were applying.
The full results will be released later in the year. Jan described the research as "the most complicated report we have done" and welcomed the fact that teaching measures were those that exceeded expectations. She told StudyTravel Magazine that the full results would have a wealth of valuable information for both schools and agencies.
See our previous story for a report on a panel discussion at the IALC 2017 Workshop on digital marketing techniques in the language travel industry, and our Grapevine gallery for photos from the event.
By Matthew Knott