EC’s recently opened school in Oxford: executive chairman Andrew Mangion says the UK remains the bastion of English learning where the brand is able to compete very well.EC’s recently opened school in Oxford: executive chairman Andrew Mangion says the UK remains the bastion of English learning where the brand is able to compete very well.

EC English Language Centres, the Malta-headquartered education group, has extended its international chain to 17 with the opening of its newest school in Oxford.

The school, EC’s sixth in the UK, is situated in the centre of Oxford. It boasts 15 classes and is able to accommodate more than 200 students. After a soft opening in January, the entire property will be fully available for use by the end of April.

“Oxford was a conscious choice,” executive chairman Andrew Mangion told The Sunday Times. “The UK remains the bastion of English learning. EC is able to compete very well and we are looking at increasing our market share in the UK. We are well-positioned with a solid brand, a loyal following and centrally located properties.”

EC has enjoyed year-on-year growth in the UK and expects to see substantial growth again this year. Mr Mangion said the company’s UK schools were favoured by English learners from Asia, western Europe and Latin America, and a marketing campaign is currently under way in the Middle East.

EC currently works with more than 1,600 international agents, which Mr Mangion emphasised, continue to demonstrate their faith in EC’s offering. EC ranks among the top five brands in the global sector and the group is working towards its objective to win a place on the industry podium.

The group is looking to venture into Ireland, Australia and New Zealand

“Our growth strategy is underpinned by our ability to bring the right people on board for the right roles,” Mr Mangion explained.

“We have invested considerably in staff training and our staff engagement scores are high. Moreover, we have worked hard to build the brand through direct marketing.”

EC now plans to both consolidate its presence in its current geography – the brand operates in Malta, the UK, the US, Canada and South Africa, besides a joint venture in Argentina – and extend its global footprint.

Mr Mangion said the group is looking to venture into Ireland, Australia and New Zealand within the next two to three years, through a mix of start-ups and acquisitions.

“Ireland is attractive to us because there is the proximity factor to the markets we know well,” he added.

“It is also a strong euro market which would be beneficial to us as we generate most of our revenues in sterling, dollar and Canadian dollar.

“Australia was in decline for some time but it has stabilised. A presence there would enable EC to tap growing English learner markets like the Middle East, Indonesia and Vietnam.”

Meanwhile, EC has set itself aggressive targets for this year and is aiming for double digit, organic growth. The executive chairman said its long-term bookings for the schools further afield were on track but that the European markets were still a question mark.

Despite being hit by widespread austerity, people across Europe are rearranging their priorities and the education and training industry is hoping education will be among those priorities. Malta, where EC has a sizable school in St Julian’s, should have a “positive year too, Mr Mangion said.

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