Seven agents were joined by three journalists for a whirlwind 11-day tour of the country, spanning six cities.
Sue Blundell, English Australia’s executive director, said: “This visit is bigger than the ten participants themselves as they will become ambassadors for Australia on their return to Italy and will share their experience with their colleagues within the IALCA membership.”
Across English Australia member schools (which cater to 80% of the ELICOS market) European enrolments fell from 22,542 to 21,890 last year, however Italy was one of the fastest growing markets. Sending 1,013 students it overtook France and Germany, becoming second only to Switzerland.
Building on the trend, the trip saw members of IALCA – which represents “language consultants and agents from all over Italy” – make 29 campus visits and strengthen ties with Austrade and various tourism bodies.
“Now that we have personally dealt with these organisations, I think it will be much easier to send Italian students to Australia”
Pina Foti, IALCA president, said: ”Now that we have personally dealt with these organisations, I think it will be much easier to send Italian students to Australia.”
Since 2008, when its revenues peaked at AUS$1.8 billion, Australia’s English language sector has been hit by factors including the high dollar, the financial crisis and unpredictable visa policies. Enrolments have fallen almost 30,000 with a turnaround still some way off.
That said, satisfaction is on the up. An i-graduate English Language Barometer survey, which polled 9,000 English language students in Australia late last year, found over 87% were satisfied or very satisfied with their experience – up 6% on 2009.