Chief Executive Officer Genevieve Abela also confirmed the organisation, which represents 90% of the country’s ELT industry, is set to release guidelines for a new accreditation scheme that will be recognised by quality assurance bodies globally.
“2015 means maintenance for FELTOM and coordination of all the things we’ve done,” she told The PIE News at the organisation’s third annual workshop this week. “A lot of our projects have come to a head– a new website, a new accreditation scheme, and growing our workshop– now we need to maintain what we’ve built.”
“We hope to shift from a junior to an adult destination”
Abela says all 20 FELTOM schools have seen a rise in adult (18+) students interested in longer stays signalling a shift from the country’s traditional mainstay of two-week junior courses.
“FELTOM’s been focusing on changing the client profile for a couple of years and we’re working closer with the Malta tourism authority to make sure that happens,” she said. “We’re attracting a business client, we’re focusing a lot on English for specific purposes and we’re aiming for markets further away and people don’t come from further away for just two weeks.”
She underlined a 70% rise in 18 years and over students in 2013 and said she hopes to see similar growth in 2014’s numbers. “We hope to shift from a junior to an adult destination,” she said adding, “but we’ll always be a very safe junior destination and that will remain a strength for us.”
However, Abela said the sector’s longterm stay market could take a hit due to conflict in neighbouring Libya. “For countries that are far away and don’t differentiate between Malta and the north African coast, we have seen a little bit of reduction in numbers in terms of students from Japan or Brazil for example, just because of the geographical situation,” she said.
“A lot of our projects have come to a head– a new website, a new accreditation scheme, and growing our workshop– now we need to maintain what we’ve built”
“I’m not comfortable saying we’re going to have a good year, but I can say that right now numbers look good.”
The organisation is set to release its annual benchmarking report carried out by Deloitte in April based on national statistics of ELT students. This will coincide with the roll out of its new accreditation scheme. Piloted last year, the guidelines will raise quality standards, extend length of time schools must be in operation before they can apply for FELTOM accreditation and establish a minimum number of student weeks they will have to have handled.
FELTOM is also a founding member of the newly established Quality Assurance in Language Education Network (QALEN) along with NEAS in Australia, English New Zealand and ACCET in the US. Among its objectives, QALEN aims to promote a globally recognised mark of quality.
“There’s a mutual recognition and that makes a huge difference as a benefit to our schools,” commented Abela.
FELTOM consists of 20 member schools. Forty-three agents from 20 countries attended the FELTOM workshop this week along with 29 schools.
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