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WSET sees record number of students over last year

Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) has seen a record number of global drinks professionals and enthusiasts earn new qualifications during the pandemic.

Person taking wine test: WSET sees record number of students in past year

A total of 108,584 students took a qualification in the last year (2020/21) with WSET, the largest provider of wine and spirits qualifications in the world.

The organisation saw a 12% rise from the number of students in 2019/20 through its global network of course providers. Numbers also exceed the previous record of 108,529 in 2018/19, the organisation’s 50th year.

WSET Chief Executive Ian Harris said: “I am humbled that, thanks to the dedication and support of our global network of course providers, more people than ever before in a single year have been able to take a WSET qualification.  I am also extremely proud that we have been able to support over 3,000 students, primarily from the beleaguered hospitality industry across the world, to take a WSET qualification through charitable schemes in association with several of our corporate partners.”

He added: “The ongoing impact of the global pandemic, combined with other external factors, has provided many challenges and highlighted areas of our business we need to focus on in the coming months to ensure we offer best in class customer service to our course providers and students worldwide. We could not have achieved these results without the tremendous efforts of all our WSET family – our employees, our course providers, our educators and our students – and I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to them all.”

Candidate numbers grew for all wine qualifications compared with the previous year, and the organisation saw 9,000 students take a spirits course for the first time.

In the wake of the pandemic, 15% of students took courses through WSET’s Online Classroom, and 17% of all candidates took their exam by remote invigilation.

The US remained WSET’s top market, attracting 20,000 candidates and 23% growth from 2019/20. The EMEA region represented 43% of global registrations with a 17% increase in students. Candidate registrations in France grew 102% on the previous year to 11,800, making it a top three market for the first time. Almost one in ten (9%) of exams globally were taken in French. WSET’s flagship school in London also performed strongly in this period, garnering a 43% increase in students from the previous year.

Despite the temporary suspension of business operations in mainland China at the beginning of 2021, the Asia Pacific area grew 4% versus last year and represented 31% of WSET’s total business. Australia, Hong Kong SAR (China), Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan (China) – all top 10 WSET markets – showed good growth.

A total of 48 new course providers offered WSET courses over the past year, including Luxembourg – a new market. The organisation also registered two new Diploma centres in the US and one in France.

There are now 37 course providers in 21 countries offering WSET’s prestigious Level 4 Diploma in Wines.

Three new Masters of Wine were announced in August of this year. Read more on that here.

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