By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

You have hopefully by now received the June issue of Study Travel Magazine, which as always is brimming with articles covering the full spectrum of the study abroad industry.

The June issue examines a couple of agency markets that are currently caught in the whirlwind of civil unrest, political brinksmanship and, to varying degrees, military intervention.

The Thailand agency survey shows that the volatile political situation has not, at least at the time of writing, dampened the country’s strong demand for study abroad. The agencies that participated in the survey recorded a very healthy average business growth of 29 per cent – indeed only one reported a decline in business over the last 12 months.

It remains to be seen whether the recent military coup and imposition of a curfew will have any effect, but as one agent in the feature commented, “Those who still have money will study overseas.” It is an important point: study abroad clients in Thailand are most likely to be drawn from the urban middle classes, which had been leading the protests against the previous administration.

Perhaps more difficult to predict is the situation in Russia and the Ukraine, which is covered in a special direction feature. The fall out over the dispute between the two countries has clouded the future for their respective agency industries. One Russian agent contributor cited an anticipated decrease off of 30-to-40 per cent in summer junior bookings, with the UK and USA worst affected.

Several study travel destinations will be waiting anxiously to see if the notoriously late-booking Russian will finally pick up. “Negative expectations are even more dangerous for our business than real tensions,” lamented one agent, highlighting that parents are concerned there will be problems with visas, although there is no great evidence for this thus far. Of more significance, certainly at the lower end of the market, is the depreciation of the ruble since the beginning of the crisis.

As one of the destinations that could be most affected, the UK’s problems with the new visa processing system it has introduced in Russia are ill-timed and unhelpful to say the least, added another contributor. The UK Home Office did promise to look into the issue during a presentation at the recent English UK AGM.

Elsewhere, the June issue of STM also includes a cover story on insurance, which picks up on recent trends and changes to the regulatory environment, a Market Analysis on the USA’s buoyant ELT sector and a feature on South Africa as a study destination. Happy reading!

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