By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

It’s been another breathless week on the news desk here at STM, with stories across the whole spectrum of the study travel industry.

At times it feels like the study travel industry is constructing metaphorical 21st century silk roads into China, attempting to tap the vast potential of the country and its seemingly ever-growing thirst for study travel.

Following President Obama’s recent announcement of five-year study permits for Chinese students within a suite of other visa concessions, we today bring news that Australia’s recent Free Trade Agreement potentially gives Australian universities preferential treatment in the market and access to China’s campuses.

A move that could potentially be seen as a threat to agency business has been cautiously welcomed by the Beijing-based association Bossa, with members stating that it should help to promote Australia as a study destination. They displayed confidence that Chinese students will nonetheless still seek the services of a local agent and that institutions will need to partner local agents for follow-up and brand promotion.

The industry’s continuing attraction to investors is once again highlighted with the news that global language provider ILSC has agreed a partnership with a US-based private strategic investment firm, with ILSC citing plans to expand in existing locations and establish new ones.

Improving service to agents has also been on the agenda this week. Global multi-level provider Study Group has unveiled a new Course Finder website and app specifically for agents, giving them easier access to information on the group’s portfolio of courses and partner programmes via several search criteria.

In an exclusive interview with STM, Phil Kent, Marketing Director, Higher Education, UK & Europe at Study Group, spoke glowingly about the contribution that agents had made in the development of the tool, providing feedback at every stage. Aware that agents work with multiple providers around the world, he said as competition intensifies, marketers need to come up with distinctive propositions to agents to make themselves stand out.

Happy reading!

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