International education industry leaders gathered online to discuss the findings of the ALTO Pulse Q1 2021 report and address specific destination country issues in smaller groups last Friday. ALTO opened the invitation to non-member organisations to encourage them to find out more about the value of being part of the ALTO community and to showcase the open, honest and highly relevant conversations that allow our members to share pertinent information with each other in a short space of time.

Key messages from our Destination Break-out rooms

Although Canada has opened its borders, the regulations are not 100% clear for certain source countries. The hotel quarantine increases the costs, waiting and processing times as well as refusal rates have gone up for visa applications. The situation is confusing for countries like Brazil and Colombia. The industry is hopefully that high school and university students will be able to come to Canada from September on student visas, but there’s not much hope for language travel, we’re looking at 2022 for those clients.

Ireland is envious looking at English UK, and how well they’ve done politically. Irish schools are working on documents and putting lobbying efforts together now. There seems to be a 2- tier system where universities are allowed to bring in students while language schools are not from certain countries even from September. There’s been positive movement, but it feels like the language travel industry has been forgotten and they need to work extra hard to raise their profile.

The borders are open in South Africa, students are coming from Saudi Arabia, France, Turkey. 13 schools from 25 have closed down, so the pandemic has been devastating. They expect to have a 3rd waive of Covid after THEIR summer.

Maltese schools will re-open on 12th April, the airport is open and hotels are accepting guests*. The government has done a great job helping the economy. The only question echoing in the rooms was where have all the adult costumers gone!?

*Information corrected on 30/03/2021

12th April is a big day in the UK with the government announcing the roadmap out of lock-down and travel restrictions. They are assessing the public’s opinion on vaccine passports. The vaccine roll-out is highly successful, but it doesn’t help the industry because as long as source markets are closed, there’s no students arriving. Source countries will be facing issues with the sometimes 2-year delay in delivering the programmes, junior clients have become adults, vouchers, reimbursements will have to be sorted accordingly. Interesting to hear Ireland complementing English UK, because despite the efforts, schools don’t’ feel like they’re listened to by the government, in fact they feel overlooked.

US schools were concerned about the bad press, particularly circulated in the industry media. Not only for political reasons but the US government’s reaction to the pandemic. Recently they’ve been dealing with the pandemic well, but the general sentiment is that things are still not looking too great. The US is certainly not the worst destination, e.g. Australia and NZ are way worse keeping their borders closed, causing their businesses close down. There’s still interest from Russia and Turkey especially in long term university pathways, university programmes, the higher concern was about shorter language travel clients who are more likely to stay in Europe. We can’t estimate when that market will recover.

Thank you again for joining us, make sure you complete the ALTO Pulse Q2 2021 survey before 16th April 2021