It was a record-breaking year for StudyWorld London, with almost 900 delegates from all over the world attending the international student recruitment fair.
Opening the event, Tony Millns, the chief executive of StudyWorld organiser English UK, said that students increasingly realised that in order to be world-class, they had to have studied somewhere else in the world. He continued: "Despite problems, we're optimistic that this business will continue to grow."
He was equally upbeat by the end of the event. "A lot of good business has been done here, and I've had lots of positive feedback about the quality of both schools and agents, as usual. People also seem very happy with changes we've made to the programme, including encouraging educators to arrange private viewings and hospitality for agents on the Tuesday evening."
English UK refreshed the format of StudyWorld this year, replacing the first evening's formal dinner with a short party for newcomers, followed by a glittering Welcome Reception intended to make it as easy as possible for delegates to start networking from the start.
The event opened with four hours of seminars, including a major presentation from Jeremy Oppenheim of the UK Borders Agency on visa regulations, including new guidance for Highly Trusted Sponsors. There were also sessions on English UK's Partner Agency Scheme, how language centres should comply with visa regulations, on simple rules of marketing and predicting global trends.
Siobhan Baccas, who organises StudyWorld, said it had been a record-breaking year. "Not only did we have almost 900 attendees at the event, but we had our biggest-ever number of exhibitors, which tells a lot about the quality of the business we do here.
"And we were delighted with the way the Welcome Reception went. It was a fantastic surprise for delegates going into the room and finding gold drapes, intimate seating and a fantastic centrepiece bar -- it really had the wow factor. It will be a challenge to top that next year -- but we'll try!"
Sue Edwards, Chair of English UK, was also pleased with the way StudyWorld had gone, reporting many positive comments about the organisation. "Each year the team continues to surprise," she said, adding: "We're moving forward into a new year, whilst also being aware of the challenges ahead. I think everybody is rushing to do business for the new year."
Carsten Sallman, Marketing Manager of Sprachcaffe Languages Plus, said: "StudyWorld is always really good fun which is why we come back. The party last night was really nice. I enjoyed the fact that it was a standing up reception, with people being active in their approach, speaking to each other rather than sitting down. We weren't limited to people on the same table. I really liked the entertainment and the magician doing card tricks.
"StudyWorld is always very fruitful for us. People here are very serious about business and this is important to us."
StudyWorld sponsor PPI was also very happy with the event. Director Danny Silvester said: "Last night's Welcome Reception was a massive improvement on previous years and I'm proud to be part of it. People are coming over to see us because the logo is on everything. Just from the logo and the StudyWorld T shirts we've had so much exposure, and that's fantastic. It's been a massive rise in our credibility, it says we're a company which is education based, support based, shows we're embedded in the industry. 80 per cent of our clients are in the industry. The industry is massively important to us. We see ourselves are being part of the language travel industry."
Agents and educators were also delighted with the event. Ben Logan of BLS in Bury St Edmunds, said; "This is our sixth year. Lots of the agents here send us students and the ones we have appointments with are saying what we do is really good. And the party -- that was a 100 per cent improvement on last year."
Jos Van Kerkhof of Study Travel had been to StudyWorld 12 times, and said: "I come every year to meet friends and to do business and enjoy myself."
To view images from the event please click here to visit the image gallery on the StudyWorld London website.