The London Statement, which sets out guidance on responsible business practice among agents working with education institutions, was a central topic of discussion at GAELA’s annual meeting in London this month.
“The London Statement was a big discussion, because we are conscious of the fact that a number of countries are looking at student travel as possibly not legitimate travel”
It is hoped that the endorsement will lend weight to member associations lobbying their respective government bodies on policies affecting the sector.
“The London Statement was a big discussion, because we are conscious of the fact that a number of countries are looking at student travel as possibly not legitimate travel,” GAELA co-convenor Genevieve Abela told The PIE News.
“We’re trying to ensure that governments do not impose legislation that disqualifies student travel, especially the language industry, for visa applications and so on.”
In some countries, having the backing of GAELA and its support of the London Statement may help “even getting through the door in the first place” to join negotiations, she suggested.
“Every country it will affect differently. In Malta, this kind of a statement gives a lot of respectability in terms of study travel,” added Abela, who is also CEO of the Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta.
Visa difficulties are likely to be the biggest issue facing GAELA in the coming year, Abela said.
Established in 2000, GAELA comprises 19 language school associations and related organisations worldwide and exists to facilitate discussion between language teaching schools and associations around the world.
Member institutions convene at least once a year to share country reports, discuss issues facing the industry and share best practice.
“The language industry can be a very lonely place to be, and associations can meet up around the table and talk about the issues they’re having… it gives us the opportunity to share best practices, information, how to move forward,” explained Abela.
“It also gives us a little bit of collaboration when I walk into a government office and I am from FELTOM and I am part of GAELA, and I can say ‘listen, you’re trying to reinvent the wheel but this is what’s happening in other countries’,” she added.
“It gives us an exchange of information that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.”