This week we interview Eren Göker, President of Turkish agency association UED about trends in the country's outbound sector and the association's activities.


What has UED been up to over the past 12 months?

2013 was a very busy year for UED as always but this time it was a really exiting year for us because we won the STM Star Agency Association award this year for the first time in our history. (Once again we thank everybody who voted for us!)

As UED we have welcomed new member agencies and reached 42 member agencies while some membership applications are still being considered.

We have also continued our promotional activities in Turkey: We printed the 5th and the 6th issues of our magazine; UEDucation Magazine, and the 7th issue is on the way; we participated in A2 International Education Fairs in the several cities of Turkey both in spring and fall of 2013; and appeared in Turkish media and international media as well several times. We have participated in some international conferences such as Icef Berlin, Alphe Istanbul and Weba Istanbul.

We have organised meetings and met with the officers of foreign missions in Istanbul as the Consulate General of the USA, the British Embassy, the Embassy of Ireland, the Spanish Embassy, the General Consulate of Malta and the Australian Embassy to discuss possible projects to increase the number of Turkish students in these countries. We have organised fam trips to Spain and the North of the UK.

And for the very first time in the history of the UED and the Turkish international education consultancy sector, we have organised the UED Turkish Agency Awards to select the best language schools for Turkish market by the votes of UED member agencies' directors.


Last year the associations YEDAB and YEDAD were created. How and why were these associations formed?

As you know, UED is an association which has strong membership conditions as references from current members and international education providers and minimum two years’ sectorial experience etc. Therefore, for the most of the agents – especially for the new ones – in Turkey, it's theoretically impossible to be a UED Member agency.

In 2013,  our government asked for an organisation in the sector which would define the minimum entrance standards of the sector and which would cover all the agencies in Turkey without asking any extra criteria and membership conditions, but only checking if they are legally operating or not.

During the research to establish this new organisation, a conflict occurred within the agencies and two new associations – YEDAB and YEDAD – were founded.

As you say, they are new associations and as UED we’re not focused on their operations. However, we continue our research to create new business opportunities for international education providers and give them best representing services with our 42 member agencies, who are located in 18 different cities with 85 branches and 26 franchises, employ more than 300 consultants and represent 69 per cent of total agent business in Turkey.


How is business going for Turkish agencies at the moment? We reported on increasing visa denials for Turkish students hoping to study in the USA last year. Has everything gone back to normal now?

Yes, we did face serious problems regarding the increasing refusal rates for USA Visa applications indeed. But as UED, we were able to keep our good communication with the officers of visa sections both in the consulate and embassy of the USA and cordially, we were able to find feasible solutions to the problem that occurred in 2013. Regarding the USA visa applications, everything has come back to normal at the moment and we all in UED have big expectations about the applications for USA language schools.


What are your predictions for the Turkish student market over the next 12 months?

When we make a general overview of 2013, the year was quite successful for almost all of the UED member agencies and we hope this tendency will continue in 2014 too.

However, there are some risks for the Turkish market as well. As most of our partner schools follow the situation in Turkey, the currency exchange rates are so high in Turkey and the Turkish lira has lost its value – especially against US dollar, the Euro and British pound – within the last month. The Turkish Central Bank has recently increased the interest rates on Turkish lira and announced that its USD stock is enough to control the situation. Therefore, an important and sudden decrease in the exchange rates has occurred, but if this increasing tendency of exchange rates appears in the future again, many Turkish students may start to think about postponing their plans for study abroad this year.

Therefore, international education providers who want to see Turkish students in their nationality mix should prepare themselves for creating special packages and promotions for the Turkish market, and should send more attractive proposals to Turkish agencies.


What does UED have planned for the next 12 months?

Our biggest aim in 2014 is to realise our programme for the education of study abroad counsellors. This is a programme which offers sectorial education and employment opportunities to new graduates. And, as always, we will continue our promotional activities and research to create new business opportunities both for our member agencies and partner schools. One of the most important aims of UED in 2014 will be opening new markets for our member agencies and study destinations for Turkish students. Therefore, we will continue our research for new fam trip projects and international partnerships. We will also organise UED Turkish agency awards again in 2014.

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