ICEF Berlin tops 2,000 and broadens reach

The ICEF Berlin Workshop, referred to by many as “ICEF Berlin“, took place earlier this week and cemented its reputation as the powerhouse of events for the international language teaching industry.

But as well as many of the world’s language teaching operations, the event also drew many universities, vocational training institutes and secondary and boarding schools too – 39% of the total providers.

All were in attendance to meet with education agencies who flew in from 97 countries across six continents. Overall, there were over 2,000 participants this year, and any historic suggestions that language teaching exports, in particular, is a “cottage industry” were clearly dispelled for delegates who felt like a small part of a well-oiled and successful industry machine.

Not all delegates were upbeat, of course, with Spanish agencies underlining that operations are difficult in a country with rampant unemployment. Brazilian agencies, too, portrayed a marketplace that had not lived up to Q1 hype about business outlook, in part because of a change in banking loan regulations.

But the mood at the event was of making the most of opportunities. Consecutive business meetings for agencies formed the focus of the event, but there were plenty of seminars on offer too, addressing issues such as agency recognition in the USA and global trends according to agencies, according to the latest igraduate and ICEF Agent Barometer.

igraduate CEO, Will Archer, revealed that Canada is making clear gains as a study destination, based on agency opinion, which showed “resiliant positivism” overall. Canada was skyrocketing in terms of perception of attractiveness of a destination, now no. 2 overall behind the UK. It also made gains when agencies (which have been surveyed for six years now) rated language teaching and undergraduate education as individual study categories.

Breaking down agent opinion by region also provided fascinating insight, such as the rise of Malaysia as a study destination among African education advisers.

Director-level organisation, the Association of Language Travel Organisations (ALTO), also held its fourth event and AGM on the fringes of ICEF, and unveiled plans for its own event in New York in May 2013. ALTO invited Marco Bertini from London Business School to speak about pricing strategy. One of his pearls of wisdom: “It takes five minutes to reduce your price and five years to raise it”.

Regular attendee, Erin McAndrew from Meritas group of preparatory schools, commented, “As always ICEF Berlin was a useful and productive event.

There is no better venue for us when it comes to seeing existing clients and friends and finding new partners. We used ICEF Berlin as a platform to launch our new product Meritas Summer with very positive results.”