Lords ask for immigration concessions for ELT during Bill debate
The needs of UK ELT were raised in the House of Lords during the Second Reading of the Immigration Bill this week.
Crossbenchers Lady Usha Prashar and Lord John Kilclooney both spoke passionately about the sector and problems it faces as a result of the Bill around students travelling on ID cards and the availability of qualified staff.
Lady Prashar, a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Students and former President of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, raised the issue of students who can currently travel on ID cards not being able to do so when the Government scraps this in 2021. She hoped a small amendment to the Bill would be accepted, creating a passport-free joint travel document which could be used by a group of students would ease the situation, and the security risks would be minimal as they would be juniors travelling as a group with leaders.
She said the loss of ID card travel threatened to deter EU and EEA junior students who might instead go to Malta or Ireland, adding that around 260,000 such under-18s currently arrive in the UK each year for courses and the cost and bureaucracy of obtaining a passport would be prohibitive.
The risks to the economy and the UK's influence were evident, she said. In addition, English language schools were already in danger as a result of Covid and if no action was taken on ID cards there might be closures.
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Lord Kilclooney also quoted English UK information on the importance of ELT for the UK global standing and the economy. He noted the drop in student numbers for the first three quarters of 2020, as shown in recent research carried out by Bonard in June and due to be released for English UK members this week.
He said uncertainty about key markets, international competition, and action taken by the Republic of Ireland to make it easier to go to ELT centres there meant the industry's schools needed wider support. He said he would suggest temporary workers be eligible for a dedicated visa category similar to that for agricultural workers.