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UK remains top in German agent survey, despite Brexit

The UK has remained top choice for language learners from Germany, according to figures from the country’s agency association. However its managing director has warned that the ongoing Brexit negotiations could still scupper the UK’s ELT sector’s attempts to manage the Brexit situation.

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The situation with Europe's English language destinations can be compared with that of in North America, according to FDSV

The German Association of Language Travel Organisers (FDSV) affirms that German parents are investing more in their children’s education, and argues that an improvement in English qualifications is top of mind. However, demand for Spanish and French courses abroad is also increasing.

“I was just astonished that UK could hold the numbers”

In terms of destination choice, the UK comprised 45% courses booked through FDSV’s 30 members in 2018, while for example Malta accounted for 17% of bookings.

“I was just astonished that UK could hold the numbers,” said FDSV managing director Julia Richter, fears of a dip were allayed, despite the British pound recovering slightly against the Euro.

“We attribute this to the fact that some students wanted to travel to the UK before Brexit – no one could foresee that the negotiations drag on for so long,” she added, and said two destinations can still take advantage of any negative implications surrounding Brexit.

English represents 77% of all language travel courses abroad, while the survey suggests there have been slight increases in demand for school-aged students booking trips to Spain and France through FDSV members.

Overall, Spain and France respectively accounted for 9% and 7.2% of bookings in 2018.

“Malta has been the second most important destination for learning English for years,” Richter explained. “Malta and Ireland have certainly also benefited from the Brexit. In my opinion, Ireland still has great potential and will certainly continue to benefit from the effects of the Brexit negotiations in 2019,” Richter said.

Demand for Abitur and University-prep courses is also rising, the survey indicated. FDSV has also highlighted that ‘Sprachcamps’ in Germany is emerging as a good alternative for language travel abroad.

“Ireland will continue to benefit from the Brexit negotiations in 2019”

‘Sprachcamps’, or speaking camps, are residential language camps within Germany. They offer good value for money, uncomplicated travel and fewer safety issues, which parents consider an important factor when deciding on course options.

The survey was carried out by researchers at Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences, however direct comparisons with last year’s market analysis is difficult due to changes in the organisation’s membership.

FDSV members count on a stable year ahead, although how the “tense global political situation, the Brexit negotiations and the Trump policy in the US” will impact this remains to be seen, it says.

The situation with Europe’s English language destinations can be compared with that of in North America, where the “Trump-Effect” is nudging German language students towards Canada, according to FDSV – numbers of bookings for Canada have risen slightly the survey showed.

The association has increased its membership to 30 members, welcoming Düsseldorf’s Go Academy! at its April general meeting. FDSV also has four more applicants for its incoming column at its November meeting, Richter noted.

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