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ALTO survey: agents up, schools down

Less than half of language schools (46%) worldwide said their enrolments grew in the second quarter of 2012 compared with last year, according to the latest language travel survey from the Association of Language Travel Organisations (ALTO). Inversely, business was up for agents with 45% reporting growth over 41%.

In the UK and Australia, only 36% and 43% of educators respectively reported increases

The quarterly Pulse survey quizzed 229 language schools and 399 education agencies worldwide about their performance from April to June and predictions for quarter three.

Countries where a majority of schools saw growth included Ireland, Germany and France (67% reporting growth in all three), with Malta again leading the pack (70%). All however were slightly less positive than in the first quarter of 2012.

Meanwhile, New Zealand saw considerable decline and no positive growth, which it blamed on economic issues in source countries and visas. In the UK and Australia, only 36% and 43% of educators respectively reported increases and both saw above average decline with visa rules blamed (as well as currency exchange rates in Australia’s case).

The Olympics also affected schools and not just in the UK.

“Malta is benefiting from the weak euro and the Olympics in the UK”

“The Olympics! This has absolutely ruined this summer for the industry due to increased flights, fear of terrorism, traffic problems and wishing to stay as far from London as possible,” said one school in an anonymous comment.

“Malta is benefiting from the weak euro and the Olympics in the UK,” said another.

While only 58% of schools said they felt positive about enrolments for quarter three (down from 66% for last quarter) agents were again more upbeat with 70% feeling positive.

More than half saw higher enrolments in Q2 than in the same period last year. Mexico – new to the survey – took pole position with 78% followed by China at 70% and Japan at 67%.

Pakistani and Indian agents reported decline compared to last year, both complaining about visa issues in destination countries

Pakistani (47%) and Indian (40%) agents reported decline, both complaining about visa issues in destination countries – the factor causing most trouble for agents in general.

One, whose nationality was undisclosed, said: “As we send most students to UK the visa situation has played an important role on this decline. It is a shame to see students not being able to come due to current UKBA regulations.”

Another said: “The visa delays and issues regarding the Canadian visa have us looking for other destinations.”

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