The personal touch
Students are absolutely astonished by the beauty and the architecture in St Petersburg, says an agent in this month's City Focus (pages 36-37), underlining that there is no substitute for going to a foreign city to learn a new language. Not only do students learn so much more when they are in situ, but they discover a people and a culture that will always inspire and surprise them to some degree.
The human value of study abroad is the message this month, which comes after another terrorist atrocity in another world city, this time our home city of London. The messages of support received from around the world testified to a love of London that is shared across many borders, and a resoluteness that life should not change. Those of us working in this industry know of the adventure and life-changing possibilities that study abroad and travel overseas can bring. I think we all feel that future generations should not miss out on these possibilities because of the distorted beliefs and outrageous actions of a minority.
Studying overseas has, in fact, become an activity that has been embarked upon by younger and younger students in the last 20 years, as greater disposable income in many cases and a more travel-savvy public means parents now encourage their children to make the most of their opportunities at a younger age. Children from eight years old can now study at a mainstream school abroad and in the UK, a booming business sector has seen dedicated study centres being established at schools to better cater for an overseas clientele (pages 18-19).
Travel, as a leisure pursuit and lifestyle, does not really show any sign of waning in popularity, particularly as low-cost flights are becoming available from more and more countries (page 10). Language schools are working harder than ever to ensure that they become the school of choice for the future language traveller; a number of new schools have opened this summer (page 7) and all boast the latest innovations and facilities such as wireless Internet connection.
The Internet has not only seeped into classroom life it is old news to suggest that no company could function without it now. It facilitates a quick response, easily accessible information and a global platform. Online agencies also offer a more economic business model and it seems this adaptation can work (pages 22-26). Change is inevitable, but more important is that all in the industry maintain a personal involvement in selling a life experience overseas.