By Matthew Knott, Editor of Study Travel Magazine

We are all aware of the value of what we do in this industry and the positive impact it can have, but if any inspiration about international education and travel more generally is required, this week’s news stories might help.

Today we report on the 2014 Hult Prize , which was awarded to six students from the Indian School of Business for their revolutionary ‘Dox in a Box’ technology-driven system, designed to allow Indian slum-dwellers to self-diagnose and self-monitor chronic diseases.

Organised by Hult International Business School in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, and funded by a $US1 million donation from the Hult family, the awards invite innovative entrepreneurs from universities all over the world to submit their ideas to address social issues under a different theme each year, chosen by Bill Clinton himself.

There were over 11,000 entrants from 300 universities worldwide for this year’s prize, and Muhammad Yunus, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for establishing the Grameen Bank, describes the competition as the Nobel Prize of the university world.

Also this week, I filed my report from the WYSTC 2014 Conference, where the closing plenary was delivered by Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Regarded as the world’s greatest living explorer, he regaled the audience with his life story and, of course, his ground-breaking achievements in a speech that was droll, self-effacing and motivational.

The extremes of reaching both Poles by surface travel, crossing the Antarctic unsupported on foot or scaling Mount Everest at an age when most people are putting their feet up for retirement will be far beyond the travel that most of us ever experience, but his basic message of wanderlust remained undimmed. “If you want to travel, just aim for it,” he said.

Elsewhere at the WYSTC Conference, I had the pleasure of interviewing Robin Lerner, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for Private Sector Exchange at Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, who took the time to speak to me regarding the aims of the J-1 exchange programme and the integral role of agents within that.

She explained that agents were valued as the first face of the programme to most applicants in their home countries, and she has made it a goal of her tenure to reach out to agents and understand their experiences and views; it was certainly pleasing to hear such a high-level official speak in such glowing terms about the positive impact of their agent partners in the private sector in driving the aims of the country’s exchange programme. A full interview will be published next week.

That’s all for this week. Suitably inspired, I am researching whether budget airlines fly to the Antarctic!

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