Representatives of the Felca member national associations at the 2017 AGM
Felca meeting shows strength and size of agency markets

Member agencies of the national associations comprising the Federation of Education and Language Consultant Associations (Felca) sent well over half a million students overseas in 2016, with most countries registering increased business, according to data unveiled at the annual Felca presentation.

The national association members of Felca, which represents student recruitment markets across Asia, Europe and Latin America, presented 2016 full-year data and recent market trends and initiatives at an annual event dovetailing with its AGM on the eve of the StudyTravel Alphe UK conference.


Of the national associations that submitted 2016 trends, two thirds reported increased business compared with the previous year, with the most significant growth coming from: Belta of Brazil (14 per cent); ANEX in Colombia (12 per cent); AMTE in Mexico (12) and Taiwanese association IECA (11).


The 12 associations that provided detailed data sent a total of 548,558 students overseas in 2016. By far the largest was Brazilian agency association Belta, which sent 246,400 language students last year, while IECA was the most prominent player in the higher education market with 22,763 students.


Taking account of additional accredited associations including one of the two French organisations in Felca and those in Argentina, Korea, Nepal and Vietnam, the total volume of students sent by Felca-affiliated agencies is likely to be between 650,000 and 700,000.


The national associations that registered a decline in business in 2016 were AREA of Russia, L'Office in France, Thai association TIECA, and UED of Turkey. Of those, AREA noted that the Russian market is recovering this year.


Among the issues cited as impacting on agents were the growth of mini-stay programmes dampening demand for traditional summer courses in Europe, particularly in Spain and Italy, and security concerns in the Asian markets.


Brazilian association Belta highlighted the growth of longer-stay programmes and undergraduate business for member agencies; Japanese organisation JAOS underlined the continuing emergence of the Philippines as an ELT destination; and Spanish association Aseproce cited growth in academic year courses.


A number of initiatives being pursued by national associations were also discussed at the presentation.


Russian association AREA has produced a series of information webinars on visa regulations and procedures for member and non-member agencies alike; Mexican association AMTE is working on a certification process to welcome smaller, home-run agencies into associated status and work on increasing standards; YEDAB, one of the newer Turkish associations, has negotiated discounts and benefits  with Lufthansa Airlines; and Aseproce has arranged for member agents to be able to assist groups beyond immigration points at airports.


Several associations referred to liaison work with local embassies to create more productive working relationships and lobbying of ministries to enhance recognition of the accredited agency sector.


Felca was established in 2000 and currently represents more than 800 agencies through the national associations.


The Felca presentation is an annual initiative, held in conjunction with the Global Alliance of Education and Language Associations (Gaela) on the eve of ST Alphe UK. A news report on the Gaela presentation will follow.



By Matthew Knott

News Editor