By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

I write this towards the end of International Education Week, a series of government-sponsored promotional events in countries including the UK and the US to extol the values of international education

 “International education creates life-long friendships between students and strengthens the bonds between nations,” proclaims US Secretary of State John Kerry on a special video as part of the campaign. For our industry this is of course preaching to the converted, but it is always encouraging to hear such high-level endorsements, especially in those countries which receive hundreds of thousands of students but send far less.

In the UK, the British Council has used the week to promote the importance of bringing an international dimension into the classroom at an early age. Indeed, my son has been learning about and interacting with fellow students in Malawi and the Netherlands this week. A news story admonishing the British for their lack of language skills gathered considerable momentum during the week, urging more people to learn Arabic, Japanese and Chinese alongside the traditional European languages.

And the occasion was marked in Canada with the release of a couple of studies highlighting the cultural and economic importance of educational exports, and today’s news story reports on how the international students in British Columbia contributed some CAN$2.1 billion to the local economy in the 2011/12 academic year – a rise of 17 per cent over the previous year.

And this was also a fitting week for an interesting series of workshops currently taking place in London. UK Work Study in collaboration with Beijing-based agency association Bossa have arranged for around half of the Bossa members to visit the UK for a series of daily sector-themed workshops.

I was honoured to be invited to join the delegates at a special drinks reception last night at the offices of London & Partners, the city’s PR agency, and enjoyed hearing about positive business trends from the agents as they took in a fabulous view over the iconic Tower of London and Tower Bridge landmarks.

“I hope my colleagues will be engaging actively and establishing some tangible partnerships,” said Xuawen E, Bossa Vice President, in a speech at the reception, promising that the current level of students in the UK was not a peak. A full news report on the workshops will follow.”

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