Campaigning for UK ELT
We campaign on behalf of the UK's English language teaching industry for policies that will help the sector to survive, compete and thrive. Until 2019 our sector attracted more English language students than any of our competitors: we welcomed 550,000 a year, who brought £1.4bn into the UK economy and supported 35,000 jobs.
But our centres lost 88% of students in 2020 and 2021 as a result of Covid, and recovery is being slowed by the end of Freedom of Movement which has hit our biggest markets, of EU/EEA students and in particular groups of under-18s. In 2021, English UK members welcomed just 53,616 students.
Straddling education and tourism, ELT does not fall under the remit of any one government department and our challenges are often not well-understood. Understanding our sector's unique needs and a willingness to show flexibility are what we need most of all.
What do we need from the UK government?
In 2022 our main campaigning priorities are:
- Immigration issues, including creating a replacement for ID card travel, increasing the range of Youth Mobility Scheme partners and improving other student visas
- Capacity issues in ELT staffing
- Getting educational oversight for Accreditation UK, the only dedicated ELT accreditation scheme, so that English UK members who wish to sponsor students do not have to pay for multiple memberships.
Read our latest position paper, published in May 2022, to understand our operating challenges and our full list of government asks. Our priorities are set in consultation with our members, and our public relations team works with an external relations group with members representing schools across the UK.
We support our campaigning with robust evidence
We monitor trends by collecting data from our members quarterly and annually with our insight partner ESOMAR member, BONARD, which is why we can precisely quantify the effect Covid has had on UK ELT and will be able to do the same with the upturn we are all working towards.
Find more facts and figures about UK ELT
Our Covid-19 impact report published in March 2021 estimated that English UK member centres lost £590m in gross revenue overall in 2020. 91% of UK ELT jobs were affected, with 54% of the workforce released and an additional 18% of staff furloughed.
How do we campaign?
Our small public affairs team, supported by an external relations advisory group of member centres and an external lobbying company works to create the optimum operating environment for UK ELT.
Our approaches include:
- Direct contacts with government officials, MPs and peers
- Membership of official panels, such as the Education Sector Advisory Group
- Orchestrating member campaigns including letter-writing campaigns to MPs and others: elected representative always prioritise constituents' needs. We have a member campaigning resources page to support with this
- Working with our public affairs advisors to get issues raised and attempt to change legislation via carefully targeted MPs and members of the House of Lords.
What successes have we had?
Most English UK members in England received CARF additional funding in spring and summer of 2022 from their local councils at 20-100% of the full amount available. This followed extensive lobbying which resulted in a Government minister highlighting the needs of the ELT sector during a House of Lords debate.
We also succeeded after long campaigns in getting study included on the more flexible six-month visa, and for students to be allowed to apply for follow-on visas without leaving the UK. ID card travel was extended for nine months after the end of the Brexit transition period after extensive lobbying of MPs and the Home Office.
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