By Matthew Knott, Editor of Study Travel Magazine

We often highlight how the study abroad industry can be pretty resilient to economic forces. For example, the global depression of recent years did nothing to quell the growing demand for higher education abroad, as the recent OECD data release on international mobility underscored.

Similarly, in the language travel sector, the likes of Spain and Italy continued to send students overseas despite soaring youth unemployment. Indeed, many contributors in STM over recent years have highlighted how study and experience overseas becomes more important than ever at such times.

What is more of a threat to the industry is the spectre of natural disasters; Christchurch in New Zealand, for example, has taken some time to return to pre-earthquake levels of international enrolment.

Global pandemics fall into the same category, and one of our news stories this week reports on the perspectives of Nigerian agents in the wake of the Ebola crisis. Nigeria, a major source market in higher education, has actually almost been declared free of the disease, but this has not prevented an impact on outbound business, with higher than usual visa denials and some institutions being cautious, according to some agents canvassed in the story.

With the panic levels ratcheting up a notch in the Western mainstream media this week, following the first case contracted in Europe, African agents might find it is a while before this situation improves.

Elsewhere, we have reported on a communique from the Global Alliance of Education and Language Associations (Gaela), outlining commitments to protect and promote the language travel industry worldwide.

And this week we also publish my recent interview with Robin Lerner, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, who is responsible for the country’s J-1 visa programme. DAS Lerner provides an overview of the public diplomacy benefits of the programme, current trends and the integral role that agents worldwide play in supporting the aims of the privately funded exchange programme.

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