Campaigning and lobbying

English language school staff hold placards in Westminster Square that read Save English Language Travel

Campaigning for UK ELT

We campaign on behalf of the UK's English language teaching (ELT) industry for policies that will help the sector to survive, compete and thrive. Until 2019 our ELT member centres, situated all over the UK, attracted more students than any of our competitor nations, feeding £1.4bn into the economy and supporting 35,000 jobs.

But our centres lost 88% of students in 2020 and 2021 as a result of Covid, and recovery is being slowed down by the end of freedom of movement in the EU which has hit our biggest source markets and in particular under-18 groups. 

As both education and tourism, ELT does not fall under the remit of any one government department and our challenges are often not well-understood.

How can the government help?

We need a supportive immigration system to enable our youngest students to travel easily once more, and national support for ELT marketing so we can reach new destinations, compensating for the lack of freedom of movement for older students.

Read our position paper: 
Help us become the world's premier ELT destination again - April 2023 (pdf)

We believe the current problems we are facing in 2023 are structural and can only be solved by the government making in what most cases would be minor tweaks to regulations to support our industry and others in the travel sector.

These include:

  • Expanding and reforming the Youth Mobility Scheme
  • Introducing a Youth Group Travel Scheme for children
  • Recognising the List of Travellers Scheme
  • Enabling students already studying in the UK to apply for a new visa for further study without leaving the country
  • Restoring work rights for all students studying on a Student Visa
  • Recognising the ELT accreditation scheme, Accreditation UK, on all visa routes
  • Helping ELT centres to recruit the qualified seasonal staff they need in order to operate at full capacity
  • Driving and measuring success by setting a national growth target for ELT students in the UK
  • Supporting our international UK ELT marketing efforts

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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 Members Corporate members 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.

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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.

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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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Get in touch

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