Campaigning update: fighting for our industry's survival
22 July 2020

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Kickstarting UK ELT: English UK launches major campaigning roadmap

Since March, English UK has been fighting for our industry's survival.

We now bring all our lobbying efforts together with the publication of Teaching English to the world: how the government can help kickstart UK ELT after Covid-19, our policy position paper outlining 14 steps which would help the industry to survive, compete and thrive.

We are sending it to senior politicians and party leaders before they go on holiday, and will use it as we continue our campaigns for Business Rates Relief to be extended to UK ELT, for increased marketing help for our members in future, and for a more supportive immigration regime in 2021. We are asking our members to amplify our lobbying efforts by also sharing the report with MPs, other representatives and media outlets.

Supporting our roadmap to recovery is The Impacts of the Covid-19 Outbreak on the English Language Teaching Sector in the UK, research carried out by Bonard with English UK members which shows for the first time how badly our industry has been affected by the pandemic.

It shows a £257m loss among the 145 participating centres, which extrapolated to the entire membership equates to a loss of more than half a billion pounds for the first three quarters of 2020. This does not include the wider effects of the loss of students' leisure spending on the UK economy and employment. Almost all seasonal staff - 46% of ELT centre employees - have been released, while 37% have been furloughed and 10% put on reduced hours or pay. Just 7% continued working as usual.

Gloomy though this picture is, we believe our constant lobbying since March and earlier is beginning to pay off. Exports Minister Graham Stuart – who spoke warmly about our industry in a Commons debate earlier in July - has written an open letter to ELT students, urging them to come back to a warm welcome in UK classrooms and outlining Covid-19 safety measures.

And, also as a result of our lobbying, the six-month study visa route will be abolished in December 2020 so anyone who wants to study in the UK for six months or less can do so with fewer restrictions.

Our current efforts are focused on lobbying MPs and peers to get concessions on Covid-19 recovery schemes and the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill which ends Freedom of Movement and ID-card travel.

This week, the Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Lords and we identified, approached and briefed several peers who agreed to speak for us.

During the past six weeks, we have also met former Trade Minister Conor Burns MP with two English UK members from his Bournemouth constituency to discuss immigration and other crucial issues, briefed and supported Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell MP to launch a very positive Parliamentary debate on UK ELT and its needs, and we are working with more of your MPs on the BRR issue. Please help us keep up the pressure on this: we understand that it has been noted within Government departments.

In London, we have intensified our BRR campaigning by involving London Councils, working to get a question asked of Mayor Sadiq Khan, and getting English UK London members involved in the very successful SOS tourism campaign in the city.

We have also remained constantly in touch with the international education team at the DIT and raised many issues at Education Sector Advisory Group meetings, where we were told about the abolition of the six-month study visa.

Finally, we are continuing to plan our English UK Summit 2020, designed to help the industry rebuild and succeed, with bookings coming in and the first speakers due to be announced next month.

Thank you to all our members who've already booked for that, contacted MPs on our behalf, or who have taken the time to complete our surveys.

The English UK team has continued to focus on industry recovery, both politically and practically.

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