The English Language Teaching (ELT) industry, although an often overlooked sector, clocks some powerful statistics. Approximately 650,000 international students studied English as a foreign language in the United Kingdom at more than 550 accredited institutions in 2014. The average course length is about 4.6 weeks, and the majority of students come from Europe (64%).
The ELT sector supports roughly 26,650 jobs throughout the UK (as a result of teaching activity, employee and student spending, and well as supply chain and service providers).
But it's the industry's economic benefits that have perhaps the most impact. According to GSV Advisors, a firm providing financial advisory services to the education and media sectors, "The global ELT sector (both studying in-country and abroad) is forecast to grow by an average of 25% per year over the period 2012-17; rising from USD 63.3 billion (GBP 44.5 billion) to USD 193.2 billion (GBP 136 billion)."
In looking at the UK's ELT sector, the value of export revenue was GBP 1.2 billion for 2014. The total economic impact of the sector– including student spending on tuition, accommodations, and other living expenses as well as additional spending by ELT centres and their employees and suppliers – is estimated at GBP 2.4 billion, GBP 90 million in the Yorkshire region alone.
Although most of the revenue is concentrated in London and the South West, the UK offers plenty of other destinations worthy of attention, and the North stood out when the ELT industry's long-standing international conference organisers were looking for a venue for their next annual event. The global network of accredited independent language schools, International Association of Language Centres (IALC), are therefore delighted to bring their 2016 IALC Workshop to Leeds and York, UK this April 7-10.
International language learning a GBP 140 billion industry
The IALC Workshop isn't just for the UK's ELT sector. It is an annual meeting point for IALC-accredited educators and study abroad agencies from around the world, bringing together about 300 attendees from over 50 countries. IALC member institutions are located in 107 destinations around the world, offering over 1,000 language programmes in nine languages. As such, all together they represent the global language learning industry, currently valued at USD198.7 billion (GBP 140 billion) and forecast to reach USD 286.2 billion (GBP 201.4 billion) by 2017 (according to GSV).
For over 30 years, this international language travel workshop has been a key event in the calendar for international student recruitment counsellors and agents to find high-quality study programmes for students of all ages and backgrounds. The event moves to a new location each year, and this is the first workshop held in the UK since 1989, giving delegates the chance to experience two contrasting cities in the North of England: the modern university city of Leeds as well as the historical charms of York.
This year's workshop is co-hosted by Centre of English Studies (CES) Leeds and Melton College, York, who will each have the opportunity to showcase their schools during specialised tours. In addition, seven organised fam-trips will take place after the Workshop enabling agents to visit dozens of schools across the UK and Ireland.
Business owners and C-level management convene
IALC's position as a leading network of independent and mainly owner-operated language centres ensures that the Workshop attracts predominantly owners and senior decision-makers from student recruitment agencies as well.
"Nowhere else do you get such a consistently high standard of schools under one roof. We are able to meet with all our partners both formally and informally, as well as begin new school relationships," says Denis Baker, Director of language travel agency Aventure Linguistique SA in Switzerland.
At the IALC 2016 Leeds & York Workshop, there will be over 4,000 pre-scheduled educator and agent meetings, plus three networking receptions including a 1920s-themed gala dinner sponsored by Guard.me to close off the event in style.
Attracting leading language schools, agencies and education consultants, the IALC Workshop offers a unique opportunity to develop business relationships with professional colleagues from around the world, as well as keep up-to-date with industry issues and trends by way of a high calibre seminar programme.
"While the business meetings between schools and agents are the heart of the Workshop, I'm looking forward to the panel debates on industry software and industry standardisation. A major change is coming in the way study travel is booked, both B2B and B2C, and these expert panels will shed light on that," hints Jan Capper, Executive Director of IALC.
This year's seminar programme will focus on smoother cooperation between schools and their partners, particularly as it relates to technological solutions and digital marketing. Lively debates will challenge current definitions of the school-agency partnership and discuss new ways of communicating, both with industry colleagues and prospective students.
Attendees will also get an exclusive preview of the results of the 2016 IALC industry research on the demand for nine foreign languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The new report unveils the reasons for studying languages other than English and how foreign languages rank in their importance for study and career-related purposes. As an organisation dedicated to owners and directors of quality-focused independent language schools and agencies, IALC is committed to providing cutting edge industry research. The 2016 report follows up on key findings from last year's research on the perception of independent and boutique chain schools in language travel.
Over the years, IALC has evolved from an association for private family-run language schools and now includes a range of organisation types: single-centre and small chain, profit and non-profit, family businesses and partnerships. This year, IALC members will also participate in an interactive session before the Workshop begins to consider the organisation's current brand positioning and establish a clear brand direction for the future, maximising IALC's existing strengths and aligning the brand to the future of the language school market.
Justin Quinn, CES Leeds and Andrew Hjort, Melton College York, bidding to bring the IALC 2016 Workshop to their cities