Boarding schools increasingly looking overseas

18 March, 2014

The British Boarding Schools Workshop (BBSW) welcomed agents to the UK last week to meet with UK independent schools in a targeted event for a sector that is become more competitive in international recruitment, according to BBSW Director Suzanne Rowse.

Scheduled meetings at the BBSW March 2014 conference in Windsor, UK

In an interview with Study Travel Magazine, Rowse said a number of market factors were driving competition to attract international students, with preparatory schools also becoming more noticeably focused on overseas recruitment.

“The number of British boarders has dropped off, and Forces families have dropped off due to funding cuts, while the international market offers steady growth and good potential for schools,” said Rowse.

The sell-out, three-day BBSW March 2014 attracted 250 delegates to the regular venue of the Beaumont Estate in Windsor, including representatives from 70 schools and 85 agencies covering 50 different nationalities. “As is typical we had around 30 per cent first-time attendees,” said Rowse, adding that Montenegro was represented for the first time.

“As the event has matured, people come back and know what is expected. It is like a community event with a family atmosphere. Having said that, there are a lot of new faces here. There is a great buzz,” she said.

Rowse added a further sign of the increasing importance of international market was the fact that institutions were bringing larger contingents of staff. “The number of people has grown; schools bring more people. They realise the benefits of the networking opportunities.

” During the workshop Rowse introduced the forthcoming BBSW Connected platform. Due to be released later in 2014, the system will connect participating schools with the BBSW agent database and provide agents with detailed search facilities. “This was a great opportunity to get feedback and feed ideas into it,” she said.

There are also plans to launch an agent training scheme specific to the British boarding school sector, she said.

Agent delegate Angela Shen, Vice President of Welcome Group in Taiwan welcomed the increasing diversity of the workshop, “This is my third time at BBSW and this event is very useful. The number of Asian agents has grown; there are so many different nationalities now. We can connect with many different schools, some very far from London.”

Representing Clifton College in Bristol, Director of Vacation Courses Tony Evans said, “There is a good mix of agents and all of them are really serious. The screening process is very good. Everyone is a potential new client.”

The next BBSW event will take place from November 13-15.

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