UK ELT in the news - concern over decline in international school groups
25 April 2022

UK ELT in the news - concern over decline in international school groups

Recent features in the Guardian, BBC South East Today and BBC Radio Sussex highlight concerns that post-Brexit passport requirements are discouraging international school group bookings - with a devastating impact on English language centres and tourist destinations across the country.

Before Brexit, groups of children from the EU could travel to the UK using their national identity cards. English UK members are already reporting that some school groups are visiting alternative countries like Ireland and Malta, to avoid the cost of passports.  

The return of international school groups is essential to the survival of English language centres around the UK, and also to the recovery of many local tourist economies and families who rely on additional income earnt by hosting these school students during their stay. 

Together with Tourism Alliance, English UK is calling for a Youth Group Travellers' Scheme to enable under-18s to travel to the UK from the EU in supervised school groups without the need for individual passports. 

> See the joint Tourism Alliance press release: The economic impact of the requirement for students on school trips to have passport

Guardian feature: 40,000 jobs at risk as foreign pupils shun UK language schools

On 16 April the Guardian reported on the UK jobs at risk if international school groups choose to visit alternative countries post-Brexit. 

"Until 2021, more than 1.5 million children came to the UK each year to study English or on organised school trips, accounting for about 11% of total annual tourism earnings."

Kurt Janson, the director of the Tourism Alliance, is quoted saying the passport requirement was having "a devastating impact on a large number of small businesses and local communities".

"The collapse in the school group market is unnecessary as schoolchildren present no security risk, will not disappear into the black economy and start driving minicabs, and parents who let their children go on school trips are generally quite keen for their teachers to bring them back home.

> read the article on

BBC South East Today

BBC South East Today interviewed Pat O'Donoghue, school principal at Stafford House Canterbury, who confirmed that the requirement for EU under 18s to have a passport is having a deterrent effect: "We're starting to see people choose Malta or Ireland". 

The future of our most famous tourist attractions also relies heavily on the return of visiting school groups. David Wilkinson, head of external engagement at Canterbury Cathedral, explains that in a normal year 80% of the cathedrals school group visitors come from abroad.

BBC Radio Sussex - 22 April 2022

BBC Radio Sussex spoke to Emilio Sallustri of Malvern House Brighton and John Veale of ELC Eastbourne on concerns about passport requirements discouraging EU school groups. 
> listen on BBC iPlayer (timings are 2'08"36 - 2'16"07)

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