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ICEF Berlin spotlights new markets, mobility trends and gender equality

The most buoyant news imparted from the 2018 ICEF Agent Barometer, released last week at the busy ICEF Berlin workshop, was that across a cohort of agents sending predominantly onto English language programs, there is significant optimism that these agents will place more students in the next 12 months than the previous year.

Over 2,840 attendees and 31, 104 pre-scheduled meetings took place at this year's ICEF Berlin Workshop. Photo: The PIE News

There was lots of buzz about evolving agent models

Launched at the workshop, which saw over 2,840 educators, service providers and work & travel organisations descend on Berlin for three days of seminars, business meetings and networking events, the 2018 Barometer featured responses from more than 1,300 agencies in 101 countries.

Presenting the findings, director of Agent Relations at ICEF Tiffany Egler and i-graduate Business Development director, Jessica Howlett pointed out that while Canada is still the top study abroad destination, the US and the UK are still subject to political concerns and currency fluctuations.

The barometer also highlighted some shifts in student mobility concerns, both prior to and after the arrival of students. Cultural difficulties and difficulties with accommodation were the two chief concerns after arrival, according to the surveyed agents.


At an event that is traditionally the main meeting point for educators and agents, there was lots of buzz about evolving agent business models, and new entrants into the market such as ApplyBoard‘s platform to study abroad.

CEO and founder of DreamStudies in Sweden, Johan Asplund provided an insight into recruiting students from Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark, highlighting that around 70,000 Scandinavian students study for higher education abroad every year, with the UK as the most popular study destination followed by the US and Denmark.

However, he warned service providers interested in the market that while Scandinavian students have the desire to study abroad, “few [Scandanavian students] can fund a full bachelor’s in the US, for instance, and they are accustomed to free education”.

Director General of TravelWorks in Russia, Denis Smorchkov, discussed emerging trends on student recruitment from Russia, describing the market as somewhat difficult to crack due to its population of 147 million, with just 6% travel passport holders.

“It is not only about promoting education abroad [to Russian students], it is about making sure you know what people from any particular region of Russia want, which can be quite complicated,” he told the crowd of attending delegates.

“Few [Scandanavian students] can fund a full bachelor’s in the US, for instance”

Meanwhile, details of English UK’s pilot program to create a world-leading ELT data reporting scheme were also announced at the conference.

Maria Cervenanova of StudentMarketing discussed the aims and methods of the pilot program in a seminar, outlining English UK’s ambitions to provide UK ELT centres with second-to-none business intelligence.

“The ambition of the project is to equip UK ELT centres with an unprecedented tool to drive their development and success, and meet English UK’s commitment to attracting investment into the sector with the help of data prepared to international standards,” she told ICEF delegates.

Lead5050 and The Global Leadership League also co-hosted the second Women in International Education Awards, celebrating amazing work being doing in the industry in the name of gender equality.

Now in its second year, the event brought together education professionals from across the globe for an evening of celebration around their colleagues’ achievements in raising the profile of women in the industry.

Winner of the Best Champion of Change award and director of Bayswater Education, James Herbertson, told The PIE News that he felt “honoured” to be recognised amongst the others who have been in the industry for a long time.

“It’s trying to inspire the industry to go against conventional wisdom, to try to encourage people to know that this platform is great. I really respect that. To win an award created as a result of their work is a massive honour,” he added.

For our ICEF galleries, click here and here.

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