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FDSV hits membership high despite closures

FDSVRegensburg-based German language provider Horizonte joined the association in 2020. Photo: Unsplash

Inbound student numbers remain low and arrivals generally come from European countries

The three new affiliates include two German language schools – Dialoge on Lake Constance in Lindau and Horizonte in Regensburg – in addition to Brechen-based language tour operator Culture XL.

“We all hope that the vaccination will bring things back to life by Easter”

The membership now totals 40 organisations, 17 of which are inbound German language schools, after Hamburg’s Colón Language Center joined earlier in 2020.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, FDSV has grown to its highest-ever member total, enthused Julia Richter, the organisation’s managing director.

However, one agency – Zebra Tours – closed over the course of the global pandemic. A further two agencies will stop operating on December 31.

LAL Sprachreisen Germany and Kolumbus will close, she noted, while LAL schools will continue to operate.

team! Sprachreisen will leave the FDSV by the end of the year, but will still continue operating in the future.

The organisation has said it will implement a student protection plan for incoming students to Germany.

“The student protection takes effect if a language school goes bankrupt and the language student is stranded in Germany and can no longer continue his language studies,” Richter explained.

“In this case, the language student will be taken over by another FDSV member school free of charge.”

Inbound student numbers remain low and arrivals generally come from European countries. Although schools are still operating, some chain schools are only opening one or two centres.

Schools have pivoted to add more students online to the classes, and the hybrid class is “working well so far”,  Richter said.

Although the German government is supporting the sector by committing aid until the end of June 2021, agents have “reduced their business to the absolute minimum”, she added. Employees are on short-time work and offices have been reduced in size.

While some students travelled within Europe to countries such as Malta, France, Spain or Italy during the summer – when young learners’ English courses were also “very well booked” – operations are on hold, Richter indicated.

“Now almost nothing works any more. In addition, it is the quiet time of the year for language trips anyway,” she noted.

“We all hope that the vaccination will bring things back to life by Easter – but probably not until early summer.”

FDSV continues to support members with information about the pandemic and tries to ensure “that the processing of visas works faster”.

“We are also considering lowering the fees for 2021 in order to meet the financial needs of our members,” Richter said.

“We hope that we can get through the crisis without losing more members!”

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