Analyzing Political Impacts on Student Travel at WETM

Dan Baker, StudentUniverse’s Head of Marketing, attended The Work Experience Travel Market and IAPA Annual Conference (WETM-IAC) in Munich last week. WETM is the joint event of WYSE Travel Confederation and the International Au Pair Association (IAPA) which focuses on all aspects of cultural exchange, au pairing, volunteering, internship and work experience.

The highlight of Dan’s time at the conference was speaking on a panel entitled “Crossing the border: Cultural exchange during turbulent times.” The panel examined the current state of play in the US and the UK and the possible courses that inbound and outbound travel will take as the UK leaves the European Union and the USA establishes new immigration policies.

As part of the panel, Dan examined a recent report by PIE News which found that four in 10 educational institutions in the US have reported a decrease in the number of international applicants for the fall 2017 intake and the potential link to a perceived rise in student visa denials at US embassies and consulates in China, India and Nepal.

Dan went on to review the impact on travel in/out of UK and US as a result of the Brexit vote,  presidential inauguration and travel ban and changes in demand since. Here are some of the most interesting takeaways:

  • Brexit – The day after the Brexit vote, we saw searches for flights from the U.S. to the U.K double YoY. Additionally, more young people are opting to take gap year travel in the face of Brexit uncertainty and hikes in tuition fees. There was a 29% year-on-year rise in travel searches following a recent UCAS announcement that applications to UK universities fell by 5% to a total of 469,490.
  • Post-Presidential Inauguration – In a recent survey of our customers, 82.15% of respondents either expressed that they were less interested in just studying abroad in the U.S. or in both studying abroad or visiting the U.S. as a result of a Trump-led America. 18% of respondents said that a Trump-led America would have no impact on their plans to visit or study in the U.S.
  • The Travel Ban – This controversial order caused an instant knock to youth interest in travel to the States, StudentUniverse saw a 19% drop in bookings during the week after the ban. However one month on from Trump’s initial travel ban, and after various restrictions have been put in place, bookings to the US are only down 6%.

Thanks to my fellow panelists – Lisa Heyn from the Alliance for International Exchange, Mark Overmann from InterExchange and Steve Lowy from the British Educational Travel Association for a productive for a productive and enlightening discussion. I hope to see you all at next year’s event.


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