Covid-19 position paper: kickstarting UK ELT

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English UK's Covid-19 position paper: calling on the government to help kickstart UK ELT 

English UK's Covid-19 position paper, updated in March 2021, calls on the government to help kickstart the UK ELT sector after Covid-19. 

The document outlines the help we believe crucial for our sector's survival through 2021 and beyond. 

English language teaching was one of the first UK industries to be hit by Covid-19, and may be one of the last to recover.

Hopes for any significant business recovery in summer 2021 seem increasingly unlikely, despite the success of the UK vaccine programme, as new variants extend travel restrictions. The sector relies on an international market. We cannot replace our customers with domestic ones.


English UK is asking the government for:

Targeted support for ELT centres:

  • Provide ongoing support for ELT, including extended furlough for staff until spring 2022 if necessary. ELT is dependent on seasonal student tourism. The sector faces a standstill until spring 2022 if there is no meaningful recovery this summer.
  • Extend the business rates holiday and associated grants, already offered to the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, to specifically include the ELT sector. We estimate this would cost no more than £15m. 

Tailored visas, immigration and travel:

  • Retain ID-card travel for under-18 EU/ EEA/ Swiss group travel after 1 October 2021.
  • Continue to recognise the List of Travellers scheme.
  • Enable students already studying in the UK on any visa to apply for a new visa for further study (e.g. in higher education) without leaving the country.
  • Require all UK English language providers to be accredited and extend educational oversight to Accreditation UK so that it is valid for all visa routes.
  • Create a youth mobility scheme, helping ELT to recruit staff for seasonal peaks.
  • Restore work rights of up to 20 hours a week for adult students on ELT courses with accredited providers on the government's register of sponsors, in line with major English language competitor nations.
  • Clarify when and how international travel will resume, with reassurance on safety for travellers and the public and due consideration for the needs of sectors relying on short-term inbound tourism.

Marketing on a national scale:

  • Drive and measure success by setting a national growth target for ELT students in the UK within the framework of the International Education Strategy
  • Support a targeted campaign to communicate the UK ELT offer and rebuild the international market.
  • Make GREAT funding available in key source markets for UK ELT
  • Increase financial support available for education exporters
  • Offer innovation and enterprise grants to UK ELT
  • Negotiate bilateral agreements to allow English teachers and students on certain vocational courses to train in the UK, replacing £7m of lost Erasmus+ revenue
Value of UK ELT industry

Impact of Covid-19 on the UK ELT sector

Our latest 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.

English UK's campaigning work

English UK is the national association of accredited English language centres in the UK. Campaigning on behalf of the English language teaching industry is a key focus of our work.