Students spread word for centre

It could be a true model for sustainable tourism in Noosa, but aside from the occasional lost Asian student, you’d hardly know they were there.

More than 2500 students walk through the doors of Global Village English centres Noosa campus, and managing director Ian Pratt said the business injected more than $10 million into Noosa’s economy.

The Noosa campus is one of three run by Mr Pratt and serves as the headquarters for the growing English language education empire.

Mr Pratt, 33, had a well worn passport before he’d left school, so the move into international education fits hand in glove.

Originally from Canberra, he studied at a university in Hiroshima, Japan, before moving into marketing Global Village schools across the globe.

The company had offices in Shanghai and Tokyo and he said the commute was a bit tedious, so after a chance meeting with the then owner of Sunshine Coast English college at a trade fair in Thailand, he jumped at the opportunity to take on the Noosa operation.

“I thought, ‘What a brilliant place for an English college’,” he said.

Mr Pratt moved to Noosa with his wife and in the past 10 years the business has gone from strength to strength, including a star award nomination in Language Travel Magazine as one of the top five English language schools in the southern hemisphere.

GV’s core business comes from teaching English to foreigners, about half are 13- to 17-year-olds on a short-term tour which incorporates language education with cultural activities.

The rest are adult students completing English as a university or professional requirement and the Cambridge University English test.

Mr Pratt said the students made an investment in the community and they returned home with an invaluable marketing tool: word of mouth.

“There is just nowhere in the world where students are embraced like Noosa,” he said.

Mr Pratt said most students opted for home stays, and the Noosa community went above and beyond what was expected of a host family. The money students earn doing odd jobs is usually spent in the Noosa.

According to English Australia, the association for accredited public and private English language colleges, language students contribute $.1.5 billion to the national economy annually, and 137,019 studied English in Australia last year, with 78% coming from Asia.

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