By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

This week I had the pleasure of attending an interesting conference in the Netherlands called the Class of 2020, which examines student accommodation issues across Europe with a range of delegates and speakers representing institutions, international education advisors, accommodation providers and property developers.

While the UK has a comparatively mature student accommodation sector, with a mix of university-owned campus accommodation, partnerships between private developers and institutions, and a range of private housing options, other parts of Europe are not quite as well supplied. I heard, for example, that Sweden has a chronic undersupply of student accommodation, with lengthy waiting lists for potential students. On the other hand, we were introduced to some very innovative constructions taking place across the continent.

One delegate at the conference commented on how important the quality of student accommodation is to their agents – the ability to offer secure, comfortable and well-designed accommodation is a key issue for agents being able to promote a country such as the Netherlands as opposed to more familiar destinations.

Another panel speaker highlighted that municipal or national plans to increase numbers of international students will be capped unless adequate student accommodation is already in place, and that the living experience is what forms the abiding memory of a study abroad trip for many international students.

My full report on the conference and the issues discussed there will appear here in the next couple of days!

Elsewhere this week, we reported on a major investment in the agency business, with the news that iae Global has been acquired by a Japanese private equity firm, with very ambitious growth plans ahead. This news taps into a recent cover story in Study Travel Magazine that examined the evolution of the agency business, including capital investment from outside the industry.

Also, figures released by Immigration and Citizenship Canada suggest that the country may be on course for a record year for international student recruitment. The year-to-date data for the first nine months of 2014 showed an increase of 11 per cent in the number of study permits issued, compared with the same period last year.

As is well documented by now, Canada made significant changes to its International Student Program on June 1st this year. The statistics indicate that a feared transitional period of disruption didn’t materialise, but could it be an indication that agents were wise in getting applications in prior to the June deadline, thus inflating the split-year data?

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