We are pleased the government's White Paper on Immigration has now been published and we welcome the Secretary of State's desire to show openness to international students.
However, we are very concerned about the impact on our industry regarding the stated intention to impose the requirement of an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) on the 58% of our 500,000 students who are from the EU. Furthermore, 53% of our students are under 18, and many of the EU teenagers are currently able to travel here on their national identity card. We note with dismay the intention to phase this out. These new requirements seem completely at odds with the statement at the beginning of the paper: "We should aim not to impose a visa requirement for short term visits." The average length of stay for an English language student in the UK is 3.7 weeks.
Many of our EU young learners will simply choose to learn English in one of our European competitor nations instead where they require neither permission to study nor a passport.
We are also very disappointed at the apparent lack of understanding of the part that the English language teaching sector plays in the wider international education context, specifically the pipeline effect to our higher education sector, in which those who come here as teenagers for a language holiday, or as school-leavers to improve their English, dream about studying for their degree or postgraduate qualification at a UK university. When they enter the UK education system at a young age they often form lifelong allegiances, and these changes threaten that potential.
This is a major blow to our industry and we will be making the strongest possible representations to the Government to amend this part of the White Paper. We continue to campaign to ensure MPs understand the value of the ELT sector, both economically (£1.4bn) and socially, around all regions of the UK, from Aberdeen to Plymouth and Derry to Ramsgate.
Notes to editors
1 English UK is the national association for English language teaching centres in the UK, with around 430 accredited centres in membership. It covers university and further education college language departments, international study centres in independent schools, educational trusts and charities and private sector colleges. English UK is a UK-registered charity.
3. For more information, contact email@example.com
4. Website www.englishuk.com