Public affairs & campaigning

Last updated: 7 January 2020

Campaigning for UK ELT

What we do

Lobbying on behalf of the English language teaching industry is a key focus of English UK's work.

We speak for our members, international English language students and the wider ELT industry to raise both public and political awareness of the benefits that we bring to the UK and its economy.

This includes producing essential data on our industry. Our most recent figures show our sector has a total annual value of £1.4bn, supports over 37,500 jobs, and contributes £236m to UK taxes. Around 60% of the 550,000 ELT students were from the EU. 

We work with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for international students; participate the Home Office Education Sector Forum; attend Home Office international education group meetings; promote international student mobility through our membership of the Department for International Trade (DIT) working group; and keep in close touch with MPs, officials and key industry stakeholders.

We are also a founder and Board member of the Tourism Alliance, the industry voice for the UK's tourism sector, keep our members informed and encourage them to make personal contacts with MPs and other opinion-formers.


Our campaign aims

We campaign to ensure the UK Government understands the needs and value of the ELT sector. The UK ELT sector not only raises over £1.4 billion a year for the UK economy, it benefits every part of the UK with jobs and cultural exchange.

We want to ensure that:

  • The UK is a welcoming place for international students from around the world
  • It is easy for students to come to the UK to study English
  • ELT is a valuable industry for the UK, both economically and in terms of influence

What we want the new government to do

  • Offer visa-free study travel for students from EU/ EEA countries.
  • Continue ID card travel for EU/ EEA teenagers on short courses in the UK, or create a passport free joint travel document for group travel for students aged 18 and under
  • Create a light-touch, flexible, short-term study visa for up to a year with no time restrictions for all ELT students.
  • Allow all students already studying in the UK to apply for a new visa for further study without leaving the country.
  • All English language providers to be accredited and recognise Accreditation UK on all visa routes.
  • Ensure EEA nationals essential for staffing ELT centres during summer peak periods are not prevented from returning annually by visa rules or salary thresholds.
  • Restore work rights of up to 20 hours a week for 18+ students on ELT courses with all accredited providers.
  • Maintain Erasmus+ relationships and funding, including for short-term teacher training.
 Read our full manifesto for the 2019 election +

Preparing the UK ELT industry for Brexit

Campaigning on behalf of our industry and supporting and informing our members became more important following the referendum to leave the European Union in 2016.

We have kept abreast of the changes and digested government policies and potential deals to keep members up-to-date and ensure we are as prepared as possible to continue welcoming students and staff from around the world in the event of Brexit. We also ran four Get Brexit-ready training days for the sector, delivered thanks to a grant from the Brexit Readiness Fund.

It is also essential to keep our partners and study abroad agents around the world up-to-date on the ever changing situation around the UK's relationship with the EU. We keep in touch with our many agent contacts and share information with members to support relationships with theirs.


What members can do

The English UK public affairs team is in regular contact with ministers, MPs and officials as well as our colleagues in the wider industry.

We believe it is vitally important for members to speak up about the work they do and the benefit it brings to their local and national community, and we encourage you to lobby both formally and informally.

We will be responding to the official consultation on the Immigration White Paper and will encourage our members to do so when we have further details.

Contact us at for any support or to tell us what you've been doing.