By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine



After a relatively gentle transition into 2015, the news desk has well and truly swung into action this week!

Today’s top news story reports on a bit of sorry mess in Ireland, where the interim laws for international education providers that were due to take effect this month are now up in the air.

Two colleges successfully challenged the regulations that English language courses would need to be Acels accredited in order to be placed on the interim list of eligible programmes that can accept non-EU students. Given that Acels is actually a closed brand, the judge ruled that there was no way that a new college – or in one of these cases colleges that have previously failed Acels accreditation – could be approved.

Ireland is belatedly trying to tighten up its international education sector and protect its reputation, and the move towards the eventual International Education Mark (IEM) is undoubtedly a welcome one. But it does now seem as if the interim regulations due to act as a holding measure until the IEM takes full effect (expected in 2016) were perhaps rushed through, possibly a knee-jerk response to the spate of college closures during 2014 which occupied a lot of column inches in the Irish national media and created a wave of negative publicity.

Elsewhere, we have the news that a major Brazilian travel agency – reportedly the largest in Latin America – has moved into the study travel sector, describing it as a “fast-growing and profitable market segment”. Some other global brands, in the shape of top English Premier League football teams, are increasingly eyeing the potential of study travel as well. In the last week, we have reported on a partnership between Experience English and Manchester City and a similar deal between Chelsea and EF Education First for new programmes.

Also this week, we have the release of the first-ever ALTO Deloitte Language Travel Industry Survey, which the Association of Language Travel Organisations (ALTO) hopes will become an industry benchmarking report alongside Study Travel Magazine’s global market report, monthly market analysis and agency survey features. The ALTO survey did show a pleasing reliance on agents within the industry, with 85 per cent of language school bookings coming via agents in the survey.

A couple of interesting additions to the data landscape were: the tracking of average commission per student week across agency markets – although a greater response rate in individual markets will be required to make this comparison more useful; and a survey question following the take-up of provider-offered accommodation options.

Last but definitely not least, we have the inaugural Alphe Spain event taking place in Malaga this weekend, and the Alphe and STM teams look forward to meeting the hundreds of agents and educators attending a conference that will be the largest-ever Alphe event outside the UK.

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