Agents on English UK's inward mission for summer schools were so impressed by what they saw that one began negotiations to bring a student group.
The annual summer schools trip for Chinese agents, now so popular that it is always oversubscribed, visited 12 centres in central and Northern England. Organiser Sarah Wang says the schools' offer of innovation and quality impressed the agents enormously.
"These are really important agents for our members, and they were very impressed by the type of programmes on offer. They're looking for something more than 15 hours of English plus some activities each week, and they found it with these schools. This is the seventh year of this trip, and I've never seen the agents so engaged before - I think our centres are really responding to the market," she said, adding:
"They were also very impressed by the range of schools they saw, and the facilities which included Olympic sports pools, the oldest museum in England, and some fabulously up-to-date, purpose built centres. One agent told me that he was inspired by the variety on offer - in the past he'd just compared on facilities and price, but now they were seeing how students are being helped to learn in innovative ways. They're delivering far beyond language programmes.
"They were very surprised that lots of the schools had very few Chinese students, and that there was a whole area they hadn't discovered.
"When we arrived at one centre, an agent asked how many students of one nationality would be taken at once, and began making arrangements for a booking. The agents were very positive about all the centres we saw, because every one had something they were looking for. It seems that the summer schools are really responding to what the market wants, and that's fantastic news for our members."
The party of 12 agents, who also all attended StudyWorld London for the first time, came from a mixture of China's biggest cities and smaller ones with a developing demand for summer school. During their tour they visited Cavendish School in Hatfield, Oscars International, Thame Valley Summer School at Rugby School, Loughborough College, EC and New College Group in Manchester, Stonyhurst College, the Liverpool School of English and Lila* in Liverpool, IH London at Ellesmere, Severnvale Academy in Shrewsbury and Bell Banbury.
English UK summer school members are taking the message to China in November with the annual Road Show, meeting agents in major cities in formal and informal meetings.