Student travel agencies in the UK are facing a little bit of a scare after they announced their departure from the UK for the first time in more than a decade.
The Student Travel Association (STA) is the country’s biggest student travel provider, with more than 20,000 students in more a dozen UK cities and more than 100,000 people on its waiting list.
The move has seen its membership dwindle to less than 1,000 members, though the STA says it is looking at ways to stay in the market.
The STA is one of many student travel agencies who have made the decision to leave the UK amid fears of Brexit.
Students are increasingly concerned about what Brexit will mean for the future of their education.
A survey of over 700,000 UK students by The Times Higher Education Monitor found that 57% of students were worried about what could happen to their future employment prospects, including the prospect of no longer being able to study.
“Students need to have confidence in the ability of the system to deliver the right kind of support to them,” said the STA’s head of business development, Mark Mancuso.
The STA’s announcement came after a meeting between the Association and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which represents all the major UK student travel agents. “
We know that for many students the opportunities in their careers have already begun to improve, but we want to ensure that our students are protected in this difficult time.”
The STA’s announcement came after a meeting between the Association and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which represents all the major UK student travel agents.
The BIS is part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The association said it was not the first to have made this decision, but that it was the first such move by an agency that had been in the country for a decade and the first outside of the UK.
After the meeting, the STA said it would look at ways of staying in the industry and working with BIS to help students stay connected with their institutions.
Student travel agencies have long been the face of the international student travel industry.
The industry is growing, and so have the number of students who take advantage of its services.
However, the number on the waitlist for a UK student visa has risen from less than 100 to almost 2,000 in the past five years, and the number who have applied for a work permit has risen to nearly half a million.
In an effort to stay relevant and connected to the UK market, the BIS announced it was increasing the number it is recruiting for its Student Travel Agency (STAs) programme to 25,000.
However, some students have been leaving the industry for other reasons, and many students are worried that their jobs are going to be at risk as the UK negotiates Brexit.
“This is a tough time for all student travel operators in the sector, as student travel remains an important part of their operations,” said David Stokes, chairman of the British Association of Student Travel Agents (BASTA).
“The BAUK is very pleased that the BAUK has joined forces with the STA to ensure we continue to offer our students the best possible support.
The STA and BAUK will work together to ensure student travel services are well resourced, are working closely with the UK government, and remain competitive in the international market.”
ABA chief executive officer Tim Clark said he was concerned that students were being left out of the conversation about Brexit, but added that the ABA would continue to work with BISA to make sure the industry is protected in the face, and hopefully successful, of Brexit talks.
“The BAU welcomes the association’s decision to extend its support to STAs and to encourage more UK agencies to stay involved in the student travel sector,” he said.
ABA and the BAUT are currently engaged in a consultation on how to keep the industry in the EU.
Meanwhile, the British Medical Association is also planning to raise the issue of student travel in the coming weeks, with its national conference set to begin on November 4.
Read more from BBC Future: Britain’s students are leaving the job market as they worry about Brexit