Summer language courses in the UK are becoming an increasingly popular option for Chinese teenagers, with a 55 per cent rise in numbers in 2013.
The importance of this growing market was highlighted during this year's annual UK Summer School Programmes China Roadshow, which attracted a record 370 agents to workshops in three cities, a 50 per cent rise over the previous year.
It was the fifth year that English UK and the British Council China have organised the roadshow, and they were joined by 27 educators as well as representatives from UK Visas and Immigration.
Sarah Wang, manager of English UK's Young Learners specialist group, said: "It went really well. At least three of the schools we took with us confirmed student group bookings during the roadshow, and we really raised the profile of the event by having a reception at the British Ambassador's residence in Beijing for the first time.
"We also took part in a principals' forum in Shenzhen, which attracted around 30 local principals.
"This year, the agents we met were much more serious about the summer school business and were far more professional. Feedback showed that 90 per cent of them thought the event achieved their expectations."
Chris Moonie, Director of the Mackenzie School of English, said the roadshow was "pretty much flawless as far as I'm concerned," while Andrew Lennox, President of the Glasgow School of English, added: "I have participated in every SSP roadshow since they started. It is good that each year the format is slightly changed having regard to feedback from the participants. This willingness to modify to try and make the experience better is very good."
For Jo-Anne Shelley of Edinburgh College the roadshow was her first overseas recruitment trip and she commented: "I had no idea what to expect. What I found was a thoroughly well organised event, British Council and English UK staff who were extremely efficient and dedicated to looking after us, a fantastic opportunity to meet good quality agents, brilliant venues and a thoroughly nice group of educators."
Ms Wang said that one agent outlined the different summer markets in China. Juniors, aged roughly 10-14, were interested in cultural experiences and hobbies. Middle school students, aged around 14-16, were more interested in language studies, and the 16-plus high school market wanted to focus on preparation for further study and career.
The roadshow was held in Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing during the last week of November. English UK and the British Council anticipate further growth in the market, and plan more joint promotions to support this, including familiarisation trips, online campaigns, and training for group leaders.
The 2014 roadshow is scheduled to take place in the week of 13 October 2014.
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