It all began in 1958 with one man’s prophetic vision of where the world was headed and what was necessary to improve the future for the next generations. A future in which good communication, an understanding of diversity, and a sense of connection to all of humanity was crucial for peace, prosperity and progress. Lars Magnusson made it his life’s mission to prepare young students for the future. He came up with a revolutionary idea, something no company had ever done before on a large scale. He decided to organize a trip for young students to explore the world without their parents, to grow as people, learn a language – and become citizens of the world.
STS Education turned 65 years old in spring 2023. Follow the story, from the first language trip to today!
STS stands for Student Travel Schools and since the beginning in 1958, over a million young adventurers have had the chance to see new places, explore new cultures, and learn new languages with us. In that time, they have made new friends all over the world, tackled personal challenges, recovered from sunburns, shared tears of joy, and survived emotional farewells. But above all: they have done so while learning about new cultures and getting a feel for a global society. So how did we end up here?
The first language trip took a small group of Swedish youth to Mattsee, Austria. Together, they enjoyed a few summertime weeks and practiced their German. The trip was a success and the next year, over 600 students traveled to England. Soon, over 2,000 students were going on language trips with STS every year. The rapid growth allowed us to expand our selection to new areas over the years.
STS is a second-generation family-owned company and today, we are focusing on our core programs: language trips and high school exchanges. We believe that these are the programs that can offer the most advantages to young people today. We believe that experience-based learning is the best way to grow, mature, be challenged, and improve self-confidence.
We are now active in 12 countries and send thousands of young students to 20 countries around the world every year on short language trips and longer high school exchanges. Lars Magnusson was right, and his original mission is more important, more relevant, and more pressing than ever before. We need a future in which good communication, an understanding of diversity, and a sense of connection to all of humanity are crucial for peace, prosperity, and progress.
In our 65 years, we have carried out several changes and a lot of growth. We have evolved with time and adapted our products and services to an increasingly international world. Here are some of the most important milestones in STS’ history.
The journey begins: Lars Magnusson organises the world’s first international youth language trip. The students travelled from Gothenburg, Sweden to Mattsee in Austria by train and spent a few warm summer weeks polishing their German language skills.
Just one year later language trips to England were introduced, and immediately demand was phenomenal: 600 students travelled with us that year. Within a couple of years, the number of travellers exceeded 2,000 each summer. STS founder Lars Magnusson was proven to be a pioneer and STS became the world’s first language travel company.
STS goes international and by 1968 we had offices in Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Italy.
Introducing a new concept: high school exchange programmes in the United States. International interest was high and there was a demand for new forms of international education.
England was the most popular destination, especially London and the South Coast. Everybody wanted to practice their English and stay with an English host family. Sport courses like golf, tennis, swimming and riding were also very popular.
By 1980 we offered language trips to England, Malta, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the USA with more than 50 course towns.
The US president formed the Youth Exchange Initiative, which contributes to international understanding through student exchange. Over the years, STS students have had the opportunity to meet several US presidents.
We offer European students high school exchange in the USA, New Zeeland and Australia. Students from these countries were also offered high school exchange in Europe and the USA. The most popular countries were Italy, France and Sweden.
World Athletics World Cup was held in Gothenburg, Sweden.
STS acted official sponsor and Official Language Experts with
100 attending employees from all over the world. We also
transported the competitors around Gothenburg with original
London red doubledeck buses during the entire event.
We expanded a lot during the 1980s and 1990s and by 2002 we had offices in 22 countries worldwide, including South Korea and China.
After 51 years in the business, we served our millionth customer! We celebrated by offering a scholarship to promote international exchanges and learning.
All of our centres in the UK received British Council accreditation, the world’s most well-respected accreditation for Language Travel.
In an effort to provide more sustainable options, we reintroduced language travel by train. Students going to Brighton for the summer can now choose train travel, rather than air travel, from a number of locations in Europe.
Today we continue to empower young people by finding new ways to make our trips better and by introducing new products and new destinations. We listen to what our customers want to meet the demands of our ever more adventurous, industrious and discerning young travelers.