How the government can help ELT: English UK position paper launched in Parliament
17 May 2023

Parliamentary reception 2023 members

How the government can help ELT: English UK position paper launched in Parliament

MPs, English UK members and stakeholders joined us for a very positive reception in the House of Commons on Thursday 11 May 2023 for the launch of our new position paper: 'Help us become the world's premier ELT destination again'.

The Terrace Pavilion overlooking the Thames was packed with well over 100 people, including many of our members. MPs who attended included Stephen Hammond, Selaine Saxby, Sir Peter Bottomley, Sally-Anne Hart, Diana Johnson, Munira Wilson, Kerry McCarthy and Kevin Hollinrake. The Earl of Minto, minister in the Department for Business and Trade, also spoke.

What's in our new policy position paper?

Our new policy position paper contains nine asks of the government that will help the UK ELT sector regain its position as the world's number one English language study destination. 

They include an expansion of the youth mobility scheme for under 35s, a travel scheme for EU school groups, renewed work rights for students studying English, changes to the Student visa application rules that will help students extend their courses, and support that will help us recruit staff and promote the sector. 

The paper says: "Our language schools are resilient and innovative, but UK ELT is competing with one hand tied behind its back. All the benefits ELT has brought to the UK can be ours once more. A few simple tweaks by the government could create a level playing field between us and our global competitors, and then we can do the rest."

It adds: "Attracting English language students back to the UK needn't be hard or expensive – but the sector cannot do it alone. With the right support, our industry can bring huge benefits to the UK economy once more."

>> Download the policy position paper: Help us become the world's premier ELT destination again

Addressing the event, English UK chair Mark Rendell highlighted how giving part-time work rights to English language students would benefit the wider UK economy: "We are losing business to our neighbours in Ireland and Australia who do offer work rights. Our students stay for shorter periods of time, and they return home after their studies. They could easily fill vacant roles in badly hit sectors such as hospitality."

How achievable is our campaign?

Host Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon, said some of our asks were more achievable than others:

"Two or three" would be very easy for the government to have another look at. "Expanding and reforming the Youth Mobility Scheme would help with more people coming here… I sense a new sense of trust is building between the UK and European nations after the signing of the Windsor framework. I hope we will be able to do more positive things on the recognition of the List of Travellers scheme."

"We had what everyone in this room and more widely would accept was the best and premier ELT destination in the world. For a number of reasons that unfortunately is under threat."

He also supported our argument that student work rights would benefit local economies: "One thing I think my colleagues and I should work really hard on is the restoration of work rights for students on the student visa. There was a myth for a long time that if you brought someone in on a student visa somehow they would disappear if you allowed them to work but that needs to be dispelled. Allowing students to work on a student visa would do a huge amount for local and national economies".

He concluded: "I hope that on a cross-party basis, I and colleagues here today will work with you."

Parliamentary reception 2023 StevenHammond

Host Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon

Warm words from the trade minister

The Earl of Minto, minister in the Department for Business and Trade, also had warm words to say about the policy paper and our industry:

"We understand that the pandemic threw up huge challenges in the sector that, as ever, you responded to with resourcefulness and resilience to help students keep learning. We want to help you bounce back and make sure even more of the 1.5bn students studying English abroad every year do so in the UK. My team is looking forward to digesting the recommendations English UK will release in your position paper later this afternoon."

He went on to outline how the government is also working closely with English UK, including through our membership of the Education Sector Advisory Group (ESAG).

He concluded: "Together we can ensure the UK leads the world in ELT and reaps the economic social and cultural rewards it delivers to communities the length and breadth of our nation."

Get involved in our campaign

Launching our position paper is the first step – we need to use it to help MPs, ministers and stakeholders understand the issues and bring about government change.

MPs listen most to their constituents, so in the coming weeks we will send template letters for members to contact their MPs. We'll also update our campaigning toolkit to help you spread the message on social media and elsewhere.

Thank you to our sponsors

To event sponsors PSI Skills for English, to Stephen Hammond MP for being our parliamentary host, and to all the English UK members who attended.

Parliamentary reception 2023 sponsors

Janet Garcia and Henry Tolley of event sponsor PSI Skills for English

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