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Turkey: demand surge for UK English courses in 2014

English language courses have always been the best sellers in Turkey, especially at English language schools in the UK. However, figures from leading agency association UED show there was a boom in demand for English courses in the UK in 2014, despite a weak lira at the beginning of the year.

The UK's share of UED members' bookings rose to almost 50% in 2014. Photo: Stafford House

The UK accounted for almost half of all language education bookings in 2014, up from 23% in 2013

According to UED member bookings, the UK accounted for almost half (49%) of all language education business, up from 23% in 2013. UK schools gained ground on their European competitors in Malta and Ireland as well as non-anglophone Germany.

English language was the most preferred language for 82% of students followed by French (6%), German (5%), and Spanish (4%).

Looking at summer school bookings for students aged 8-17, the UK made up 70% of bookings. For over 18s, it represented 63% of total courses reserved. Almost half of university courses (48%) were booked in the UK compared to just 20% in 2013.

“If you want to make a movie you go to Hollywood, if you want to study English you go to the UK”

Considering the currency challenges Turkey faced at the beginning of 2014, agencies thought UK bookings would stagnate.

“Everybody in UED expected it to be the top destination but we expected a smaller ratio,” commented Gokhan Islamoglu, coordinator at UED confirming that English education abroad is the main product for member agencies.

“Everybody is keen to study abroad so English speaking countries always have an advantage in the Turkish market,” he said. “The UK is the number one destination for English language not just for Turkish students but for people all around the world.

“If you want to make a movie you go to Hollywood, if you want to study English you go to the UK.”

London, Brighton, Cambridge, Oxford and Bournemouth were the most in-demand UK cities according to UED members.

Elsewhere, bookings for courses in other English language markets reflected 2013 numbers– 21% of courses were booked in the US while Canadian bookings were up 2% to 10% of the total.

Like last year, general English courses, including intensives, dominated the market with 67% of reservations.

UED agents also saw lengths of stay increase slightly last year with 8-12 and 12-24 week bookings making up 54% of the total compared to 48% in 2013.

“More students are coming to member agencies through references which means a decrease in the number of students who find agencies through recruitment fairs”

But, despite the UK’s dominance in 2014, Islamoglu said 2015 bookings are already painting a different picture as Malta and Ireland become well placed to gain ground thanks to the more steady euro.

“The euro is stable so in this season parents are more keen than ever to study English in some continent in which they can pay their fees in euro. It’s an advantage for Malta and Ireland,” he said adding that Ireland is beginning to see the benefits of a fast-track visa scheme launched by MEI and the Irish Government in 2012.

UED’s 42 member agencies represent some 65% of the agency market in Turkey. Despite three quarters of members reporting they had attended a student recruitment fair either alone or with their partner schools, most reported an increase in students finding them via word-of-mouth.

The member survey showed that 60% of students said they found agencies through references. “That’s a huge increase compared to last year,” commented Islamoglu.

“More students are coming to member agencies through references which means a decrease in the number of students who find agencies through recruitment fairs, or the internet.”

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