What does English UK do?

English UK is the national association of accredited English language centres, and a UK-registered charity with the key aim of advancing the education of international students in the English language.

Our 400+ members are fully-accredited English language centres in the private and state sectors throughout the United Kingdom. We also have close links with corporate members (service providers to the sector) and more than 250 partner agencies (who have to meet the highest standards) from all over the world.

We lobby for the interests of the sector and our members in particular: offer training, support and conferences to raise standards; promote business partnerships through StudyWorld, overseas events: and keep our members up-to-date and informed.

We make it easier for students and agents to find the highest-quality courses with our Course Finder, which includes thousands of fully-accredited courses at our member centres. Find out more about us.

Find your perfect course with the English UK Course Finder.


Where can I find out who provides Secure English Language Tests (SELTs)?

The complete list of providers and other useful information is available on the Home Office website.

Do I need a visa to study English in the UK?

Yes, unless you are a national of a country in the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

Different types of visas are available, and some will be more suitable than others, depending on how long you want to study and your language level. Find out more about visa types.

Find out whether or not you need a visa

Can you recommend a language centre?

We can recommend over 400: all our members are fully inspected under the Accreditation UK scheme, which is one of the most rigorous systems in the world. It checks student welfare and centre resources as well as progress and teaching quality. To find the centre which suits your requirements best, use our Course Finder tool.

Can you recommend an agent?

Yes, we have a growing number of Partner Agencies all over the world who have to meet several quality criteria, including getting five good references from our member centres. View our Partner Agency directory.

Can we get any advice on passing our accreditation inspection?

Yes: we know it can be a daunting process for language centres. We offer an Accreditation Consultancy Service to help you through the process. Find out more about Accreditation.

Is English UK a government-funded organisation?

No, English UK is a charity funded by member subscriptions and activities including StudyWorld, events, conferences and training. English UK does accept some funding from the DIT for certain activities and initiatives.

How can we become a host family?

If you're in an area with lots of English Language schools they may advertise for host families in the local media. Otherwise, the best way is to get in touch with nearby centres: you can find contact details on our Course Finder tool.

Can we advertise our business on your website?

Sorry, no: there are no advertisements on our website. However, there are opportunities in our email newsletters and conference brochures for corporate members of English UK to advertise services to members. Corporate membership is an excellent way for businesses in the EL sector to create stronger relationships with language centres and other providers. Find out more about corporate membership.

Does English UK offer scholarships?

No, we do not directly run any language centres, but our members do. A list of scholarships for international students is published by the British Council and is available on the British Council website.

Does English UK offer language courses?

No, but our 400+ members do. Our Course Finder tool is designed to help you find the course which best suits you, in the area of the UK where you want to study. Thousands of courses are listed, and as all the centres are fully accredited you can choose a course with confidence.

Can I get hold of a list of English language course providers?

The majority of accredited English language course providers in the UK are members of our organisation, which means they are listed in our directory. Visit our language centre directory page.

Is studying English in the UK expensive?

It compares very well with many of our competitor nations, and costs often vary in different regions of the UK. All of our member centres are accredited to the same very high standard, but you'll find that fees vary enormously.

This means you can get the same excellent education for much less. In general it is cheaper to study outside London (although some London centres are very competitively priced) and living costs are often less in the North of England. It's worth comparing several centres and their costs. Find out more about the cost of studying in the UK.

Will I be able to understand regional accents if I choose to study outside London?

Yes. Your teachers and host families will always speak very clearly. Accents are different around the country but it is very rare that you would not be able to understand what somebody is saying. Many people think that the accents outside London are clearer, easier to understand, and sound nicer.

How are English UK and StudyWorld London related?

English UK organises and manages StudyWorld, the UK's largest event focused on promoting UK international education to agents, partners and influencers from around the world. The event celebrated 50 years in 2019. For more information visit the StudyWorld website.

How are the British Council and English UK related?

Our two organisations have a history of working together on initiatives affecting English Language teaching in the UK. These include jointly running the Accreditation UK scheme, which is one of the world's most rigorous inspection systems for language centres.

All English UK members have to be accredited by Accreditation UK, which is why you will see the British Council logo on their websites. We also work closely together on market reports and in other ways. Both the British Council and English UK are charities, but most of the British Council's funding comes from the UK government, while English UK's income comes largely from member contributions and the services and events we run.

What protection do students have if they are studying at English UK member centre?

Students are doubly protected if their language centre closes suddenly. This happens very rarely to English UK member centres but it is reassuring for students to know they will be looked after if there is a problem.

All our member centres are automatically part of two schemes to protect students. These are:

  • A scheme obliging member centres to offer free places for students to complete their courses if their centre has closed.
  • the Student Emergency Support Fund, which reimburses lost accommodation fees paid before a language centre closed, and helps students with travel costs if their replacement course is a long way from the original one.

Can you offer advice on how to set up a language centre?

If you've worked in a language centre, perhaps as a teacher or Director of Studies, you should have a good idea about the basics of the staff, resources, classrooms, equipment and accommodation you'll need. You will also need administrators with an excellent knowledge of current visa regulations and employment law, and to think about registration systems, charges, and how you are going to attract students.

Non-members of English UK can attend most of our conferences and training events which will help with different aspects of running a centre, but once your centre is established, you may wish to go for accreditation and to get the support which comes with being an English UK member. Passing an Accreditation UK inspection first time is not easy, and we offer an Accreditation Consultancy Service to support you through this process.

Download our information sheet on opening a language school in the UK.

How do I become an agent?

Many agents start their careers by joining a local agency as an advisor and learning about the business with help from colleagues. You may be able to find a reputable agent in your area on our Partner Agency directory.

Good agents need to have a secure knowledge of different types of education available, to be up-to-date on visa policies, and to build excellent and trusting working relationships with educators. It is a good idea to undergo training where possible -- we give links below -- and once you can provide five good references from English UK members you may be eligible to join our prestigious Partner Agency Scheme which includes an online briefing.

Where can I find free English books or resources?

There is an excellent selection on the British Council website.

Where can I look for ELT vacancies?

Try the following sites:

I am on holiday/ on business in the UK on a six-month visitor visa. I'd love to improve my English: am I allowed to take a short course?

Yes, from 1 October 2013 the rules have changed so that people in the UK on general visitor visas, family visas and business visas can study for a maximum of 30 days during the six months they are allowed to be in the country. You are allowed to study for six weeks consecutively or spread out the classroom time in different ways. You must do your English course at a centre accredited by Accreditation UK.

Current holders of long-term visit visas or visit visas may also study after 1 October.

If your main purpose in coming to the UK is to study, you should still apply for a Student Visitor Visa, but if you want to combine a holiday or business with a short course, then you need a general visitor, family or business visa.

Study is still banned on some visas. These are Approved Destination Status (ADS) with China; parent of a child at school; sports; entertainer; private medical treatment; prospective entrepreneur or for the purposes of marriage/civil partnership.