Matthew Knott, News Editor of StudyTravel Magazine
Opinion... from the News Editor

Well what a hectic, intense but hugely fun and highly informative few days it has been for us here at StudyTravel.

Last week I wrote on the eve of the StudyTravel Alphe UK event, which was of course the biggest ever. A new format to expand the conference across two floors was seamlessly integrated and well received.


A huge thank you to all of the delegates that came over to our stand to meet the StudyTravel Magazine editorial team and to complete our reader survey. This survey will help us to refine the magazine and make sure that we are covering the topics and issues that agents want to read about.


It is always a pleasure to meet so many readers at our Alphe conferences, and the warm words of praise for our print magazine and online news are very gratifying. It was also fabulous that so many of you commented positively on the news videos that we are producing.


This year more than ever, StudyTravel Alphe UK was an example of the scale, breadth, inherent sociability and vibrancy of the study abroad industry. And the scale was also certainly evidenced in the statistics presented by the Federation of Education and Language Consultant Associations (Felca) on the eve of the conference. See our news story for more details on this.   


The StudyTravel Star Awards gala dinner on Saturday night was the industry event of the year that it always is. A buzzing jamboree of fine dining, fun, silly hats (courtesy of the photo booth), music, dancing and air guitar (well, from me at least)!  


And the small matter of 23 industry-voted awards to be distributed to this year's lucky winners. Congratulations to all of the nominees, the winners and the new inductees into the ST Super Star Hall of Fame.


It was also a pleasure to be invited to speak at English UK's StudyWorld conference this week, sporting a fresh look, a new format on UK education and different venue. Congratulations to them on a successful event.  


More coverage will follow on the content of the seminar programme including my session on young learners, but there was one agent panel discussion on the topic of UK summer school opportunities in the Chinese market that nicely summed up the necessity of agents and partnerships.


Asked whether schools should employ Chinese employees in order to bridge the business culture gaps between the UK and China, the agent replied, "That is my job!" Trust in a knowledgeable partner is clearly key to a successful business relationship.


And another news story this week highlights the importance of the industry meeting up and working together.


Reports coming from the USA suggest that the employment-based elements of the J-1 exchange programme are under threat. At the Felca AGM, the associations could discuss this and co-ordinate a response that agents worldwide can use to lobby local ambassadors and embassies.


A lot of anguish - at times a little misplaced - has followed some of the Trump rhetoric and suggestions, but if the rumoured J-1 cuts were to go ahead it would be the most direct and tangible impact on agency business to date under his administration.


But as one agent advised me at ST Alphe UK, the real loser will be the USA itself as students will simply choose another more welcoming destination. The J-1 scheme has existed since 1961 as a tool of soft diplomacy; removing it would be a retrograde step.


That is all for this week. Time for sleep after all the meetings and networking!



By Matthew Knott

News Editor