By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

And so the industry conference season is in full swing, with our Alphe UK workshop commencing proceedings last Friday and StudyWorld taking the baton over the last couple of days.

This time of year is always a timely reminder of the scale and vibrancy of the study abroad industry, and it is a pleasure to see the buzz of the busy conference rooms at these two events, as schools unveil their 2014 brochures, catch up with existing agent partners and seek new ones.

Indeed, Alphe UK was the largest to date, with a record 422 agents and 276 educational institutions in attendance. What struck me more than the total number of delegates was the sheer diversity in the meeting room: 74 student markets from Albania to Zambia were represented at this one event in London, while language schools from Panama and Poland nestled alongside some of the more familiar faces.

In the middle of all of this was the STM Star Awards - the industry flagship gala ceremony where schools and agents receive the awards voted for by their partners. For those not at the event – or for those wishing to relive the evening - a list of winners and a gallery capturing some of the glamour and excitement is online now, and a full report will appear in the November issue of Study Travel Magazine.

Five more Super Stars were inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, while there were also a number of first-time winners. One winner (I won’t say which!) told me earlier in the day that they had no chance of winning and would streak naked through the ceremony room if they did. Needless to say, they quickly backtracked on this promise, but it goes to show that some award recipients are genuinely surprised and humbled by success in their categories. Another winner looked so thrilled when receiving the prize, I thought we were about to witness a stage dive!

Congratulations to all nominees and winners and thanks once again to all those that voted. And special praise must go to our very own Editor Nicola Hancox, for whom presenting the awards with her usual panache was the last act before her maternity leave. All the best Hanky!

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