Four member centres from English UK Northern Ireland, our smallest regional group, gathered to hear English UK's plans and strategy, and talk about areas where they would like more help.
One major problem is that not many people have heard of Northern Ireland. But, 'once you get students here', Vivienne O'Brien of Ulster University said, 'they love it and extend their stay.' As English is GREAT competition winner Guilherme discovered during his two week scholarship hosted by English UK Northern Ireland.
Students also choose to go to Dublin because of work rights and pathway options, but, as Vivienne continued, Northern Ireland 'comes up as the number one cheapest place in the UK to live and when all our students go back they do say what a wonderful time they've had. It's just getting them here in the first place.'
To overcome this, the group discussed how it could work together to market at StudyWorld London and the English UK Fairs, and perhaps access funding from Invest Northern Ireland, a capacity-building organisation currently investigating investment opportunities in the education sector.
Paul Murray of Foyle International suggested the group could lobby government to give special status to the ELT industry in Northern Ireland to help counteract the effects of 40 years without investment in infrastructure and marketing. Huan Japes, English UK's deputy chief executive for professional services, thought this might be feasible and added that English UK's key lobbying goal of seeing students removed from immigration statistics might open up more possibilities for centres in the region.
English UK's member roadshows are all about giving English UK members the chance to work together more closely to support shared interests, become more involved with English UK, share ideas and have their voices heard.
Join us at the next member roadshows in Bournemouth, London and Manchester: look out for your invitation.
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