English UK's Oxford Roadshow: universities and colleges want wider 11-month visa, and more
16 February 2016

Almost a third of participants at English UK's latest member roadshow, in Oxford, were from public sector universities and FE colleges.

Questions included whether English UK could widen its training programme to include universities offering pathway programmes, and also whether we could lobby for the interests of these providers, lobbying for 11 month ELT-only visas widened to include such courses. Shaf Hussain of Central College, Nottingham, said this would make it easier for FE colleges which lose Tier 4 licences if their Ofsted rating drops to Grade 3.

Huan Japes, English UK's deputy chief executive for professional services, said Study UK and ExEd (Exporting Education) were actively lobbying for wider 11-month visas, and that English UK would support this. There will be a session on pathway courses at the English UK AGM, and there are plans to create new special interest groups for FE and HE, enabling them to drive events and training, he said.

Marina Grishanina of the Oxford Language Centre asked whether English UK was lobbying to get students removed from the immigration statistics: Huan said we had consistently done so. He thought students would eventually be removed from the statistics, but not before the EU referendum.

The meeting discussed getting local MPs involved in campaigning for the industry: four participants had met MPs, with Andrew Smith and Anna Soubry described as "very supportive".

It also discussed the imminent creation of a regional group to cover the South coast from Kent to Bournemouth and up to the Oxford area, probably with hubs around the major centres. Every area would be covered by an English UK group.

Other questions included whether English UK members should use English is GREAT branding: Annie Wright, English UK's deputy chief executive for business services, suggested using it as a social marketing hashtag. There was a lot of interest in English UK's current plans to widen the scope of market statistics for members, and broaden direct marketing.

Participants were very positive. Matthew Leake of Oxford Brookes University said: "It's been really interesting, because I knew very little of what English UK does and because it was useful to talk to other organisations and find out how they are structured. It's good to know you're listening to us." 

"It was eye-opening. It was good to get the bigger picture of what English UK does and the smaller picture was as well. I also enjoyed meeting the other schools," said Rosa Lucia, Oxford School of English.

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