By Matthew Knott, News Editor of StudyTravel Magazine

Firstly, let me begin with a couple of important announcements this week.

Voting for the 2015 STM Star Awards closes at the end of Friday 15th May, so if you haven’t already cast your votes for your preferred partner agencies or institutions, I would urge you to please do so now! This year’s event will be the 10th Star Awards – yes the 10th, I kid you not! – so your votes will help to make it extra special.

And then I bring you exciting news of our latest development in news coverage at StudyTravel Magazine: a new weekly audio news broadcast.  

Every week, we will be recording highlights of the biggest news stories published on the website, giving readers another option of how to access the biggest industry stories. You’ll be able to hear my dulcet tones on the broadcasts – I assure you that no studio wizardry has taken place, my voice really is that deep!

So on to the news. Our Staff Journalist, Claire Twyman, has filed a report from the English UK AGM this week, and there was predictably a lot of chatter about the potential impact of last week’s general election result – a clear Conservative majority – on the sector.

Given that five years of lobbying that international students should be removed from the country’s migration data to the last Conservative-led coalition government fell on deaf ears, it would seem unlikely that this will happen now. And this along with other elements of visa policy led to flat enrolment data in 2014, according to English UK Chief Executive, Eddie Byers. No doubt the strengthening pound sterling can’t have helped much.

Far more positive was this week’s report from Spain’s language school association Fedele, which showed a healthy nine per cent increase for 2014, the year that the Spanish industry truly recovered, according to Antonio Anadon, Owner and Founder of the Don Quijote and Enforex Spanish language school brands.

Increases were spread quite evenly across different markets, said Anadon, while there is burgeoning interest in the kind of pathway/academic preparation programmes that have grown substantially in the English-speaking destinations, offering future promise for schools and agents alike.

Yet again we can see the impact of the EU-funded Italian PON scholarship scheme, with Italy rising to become the top source market in Spain – as it was in Ireland, Malta and the UK. It is a project that seems to benefit both sides of the industry: agents are heavily involved, and the groups tend to travel in the low autumn season, filling classrooms that might otherwise be largely vacant. There can be a relatively lengthy wait for payment for schools, which has perhaps discouraged some smaller institutions from getting involved, but as Henry Tolley of Trinity College London – the exam which is generally used as the PON’s required external test – pointed out at a special seminar earlier in the year, this is all the more reason to make sure that agents are involved.

Elsewhere, we have an interesting analysis of the Independent Schools Council data on international enrolments at UK boarding schools in our ‘View from the desk of…’ column this week from Suzanne Rowse at the British Boarding Schools Workshop.

Happy reading or, if you prefer, listening!


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