China to be number one market for WSET students in 2013
China will overtake the UK in 2013 as the number one market for students taking a Wine & Spirit Education Trust course.
Ian Harris, the WSET's chief executive, said the international reach of its training programme meant it now had 500 centres around the world in 60 countries, including 22 in China and a further 22 in Hong Kong.
He said there was a real recognition across South East Asia, an in particular in China, that "education is the way to make not only themselves better but their businesses".
China's place as the number one wine training centre in the world was an issue Jancis Robinson MW picked up on as she helped present prizes at last week's WSET graduation ceremony at London's Guildhall.
Robinson, the WSET's honorary president, told the 500-strong audience: "Despite the continued growth of student numbers in the UK, the fact is that Greater China is set to overtake the UK as WSET's biggest market this year, something I would have never imagined possible when I did my Diploma".
Harris told Harpers the WSET is on course to grow a further 20% in the next year following a 20% increase in the last year. The number of students in the UK has increased 11% in the last year. "People are more and more believing in the importance of education in their business," he added
He said the balance of students remained around three quarters from the trade and a quarter being general consumers.Which was why it was so important for the WSET to continue its support of major consumer wine shows like Three Wine Men.
"We are also seeing an increasing number of people doing WSET courses who are looking to start a second career in wine," said Harris.
The graduation ceremony was held to honour the best-performing students at Levels 2 and 3 (formerly Intermediate and Advanced) and 100 Diploma level students who had travelled from all the world to attend. The ceremony also saw over 40 industry-sponsored prizes handed out.
The top award, The Vintners' Cup, for the highest ranked Diploma graduate of the year, went to Mei Hong, a Chinese wine consultant based in Burgundy, who studied at WSET's London Wine & Spirit School.
The Riedel Trophies for the WSET's two Educators of the Year went to Adam Chase, owner of Grape Experience, a WSET course provider in the US, and Len Sexon, wine education manager at Laithwaite's Wine.
Harris added: "So many people around the world contribute to WSET's ever-increasing success, from the educators and administrators at WSET's 500 providers in 60 countries to the hard work of the many thousands of students who take our examinations each year. I would also like to pay special tribute to the numerous industry companies who continue to support us either by the provision of Scholarship awards or by their Corporate Patronage. The WSET Trustees and I are very grateful for the commitment you have all demonstrated to education in general and WSET in particular".
A full list of all awards and winners is available at: http://www.wsetglobal.com/about_us/awards__graduation/wset_awards__graduation_2013/default.asp