An open meeting took place at the World Youth and Student Travel Conference yesterday discussing the possibility of creating a new industry association for the language and education sector.
Following the withdrawal of the Association of Language Travel Organisations (ALTO) from the World Youth Student and Educational (WYSE) Travel Confederation earlier this year, newly appointed WYSE Executive Director Robin Wicks sensed an opportunity for a new association.
The meeting, which consisted of approximately 80 businesses – roughly half and half buyers and sellers – was undertaken on whether there was merit in creating a new organisation, at this stage to be called Study WYSE, under the WYSE Confederation umbrella. The feeling around the room was generally supportive with objectives such as benchmarking the industry, collective lobbying of governments to improve visa access, creation of better trading platforms, aggregation of knowledge and even the potential of working with local accreditations was mooted.
Ulises Ortega of Mundo Joven in Mexico stressed the importance of sharing knowledge across a very broad industry sector that has been poorly supported by ALTO. The general feeling within the room for ALTO was not positive. Anders Ahlund of EF International Schools said ALTO does not know where it is going and is not encompassing enough of all the different sectors of the industry including high schools, tertiary education and language education.
ALTO made the decision to leave the WYSE Confederation in June of this year at their AGM. The message from many members was that they were not consulted of the split and that of the 130-odd members only 28 attended the decisive AGM (which was the absolute minimum for a quorum) and only 17 of those voted in favour of the split.
The next step is the continuation of a working group to assess the needs of the industry and the appetite. It was proposed that to be sustainable the organisation would require a membership cost of approximately €2,000 per business per annum.
Dan Roberts from travelgeneration.com is Thumbrella’s WYSTC Beijing Correspondent and will keep you updated on all the latest WYSTC news throughout the week.