Nicola Hancox, Editor of StudyTravel Magazine.
Opinion... from the Editor
The northern hemisphere might be making its transition into autumn but we can't help but talk about summer!

This week we bring you news of the increasing number of Chinese agencies promoting summer school programmes in the UK. 


A jointly produced, comprehensive report on this rapidly changing market was unveiled at last week's StudyWorld conference in London, UK. According to one of the report authors, Su Si, Education Manager at the British Council China, the number of BC registered agents promoting UK summer schools doubled between 2012 and 2016, creating, she said, ample opportunity for those looking to expand their business in China.


Indeed, with the number of international schools expected to increase in China over the next few years, UK-based institutions will need to think carefully about their offerings if they are to compete with their international counterparts.


The report also found that there was a notable increase in the number of UK short-term student visitor visas issued (the most appropriate visa type for non-EEA nationals in the summer school sector), up 26 per cent in 2016.


A Chinese agent I met at StudyTravel Alphe UK last week confirmed this upward trend for summer programmes, noting that the age of Chinese study abroad students was getting younger. He added that this is when students are at their most impressionable. If they go abroad to study/tour and have a positive experience then they are more likely to go abroad again when looking at university options, he said. Not that there is any shortage of Chinese students going aboard to study at degree level!


Sticking with the summer theme, IH Belfast in Northern Ireland has just announced a new summer programme for teenagers. The language school was busy promoting its new language course at ST Alphe UK, with agents treated to an immersive virtual reality experience! 


What an exciting and transformative way to promote a school and its product line. I suspect voyeuristic tours of school campuses via a simple yet effective VR viewer (or headset) will become more and more commonplace in the b2b marketplace.


This week we also summarised data shared by language school associations during the recent GAELA AGM.


While most destinations enjoyed a period of growth or stability in 2016/17, the careworn US market continued to suffer, prompting university-based members to consider or reconsider agent usage, confirmed EnglishUSA Executive Director, Cheryl Delk Le-Good.   


Figures from the US-language school sector do seem at odds with those from the US-university sector, which has enjoyed several years of consistent good growth in international student recruitment. However, the latest report from IIE (the body that produces the annual Open Doors report) hinted that the USA's growth trajectory slowed last year, with the number of new international student enrolments rising by 2.4 per cent in 2015/16, lower than the 8.8 per cent increase in new entrants in the previous year.


The US need look no further than Australia for recruit-spiration! Having experienced a similar recruitment depression in 2010, Australia has managed to bounce back with record numbers across all sectors in 2016. At the time it called for more joined-up thinking between industry and government.


During the GAELA meet, Cheryl highlighted that EnglishUSA was committed to cultivating relationships and maintaining open communication with sponsoring agencies, federal government agencies and additional stakeholders to strengthen and assist the intensive English program community.


By Nicola Hancox