Positivity at StudyWorld winter boosted by government travel announcement
Our first event of 2022 was boosted by the government's announcement of the end of Covid testing for under-18s and fully vaccinated adults travelling to the UK, and another 16 countries joining the approved vaccine list.
1,550 online meetings
StudyWorld winter - attended by 67 educators and 126 agents and buyers from all over the world on 25-27 January included 1,550 online meetings and a seminar programme designed to update and reassure about UK ELT and Covid-safety for students travelling here.
Opening the event, our chief executive Jodie Gray struck an upbeat note. She said that while the only certainty in the pandemic was that everyone was making it up as they went along, she felt "cautiously optimistic."
While the UK had fared less well than competitor ELT markets because of its lack of an onshore market and its reliance on junior students, she said, the sector had shown its resilience.
"While every permanent closure is heart-breaking, it's quite unbelievable that only 15% of our providers closed even though student numbers dropped by 70%. That 85% remain is a tale of remarkable survival," she said, adding that she believed that while BONARD figures show just 20% of agencies being active at the end of 2021, she believed the market would expand quickly once more in line with the sector's recovery.
We are awaiting the result of a staffing survey which will inform an action plan to support members, and we are also gathering data on online teaching from QUIC participants to better understand the impact for the future. "We want to see what extent the demand for innovative online or blended learning is growing, and how to turn that from threat to opportunity," she said.
While the situation was complex and it was hard to predict what might happen next, Jodie cited VisitBritain figures showing how quickly travel confidence fell in December with the spread of the Omicron variant, and also how quickly increased travel confidence in the autumn with the lifting of restrictions had led to bookings. "This shows the outlook can improve, and quickly, as there is pent-up demand there," she said.
Remaining agile and flexible
Jodie concluded: "English UK is here to support English UK members and UK ELT, and we remain agile and flexible. We will reassure and stimulate demand with our English with Confidence campaign, research and provide insight on new opportunities and emerging trends. We will support the capacity to rebuild, and lobby for the best-possible operating environment.
"Our vision for the UK ELT sector is to transform lives through learning and intercultural understanding, and our resolve to achieve that has never been stronger."
We are grateful to gold sponsors the British Council and CES – Centre of English Studies, and silver sponsors Disquiet Dog and Endsleigh insurance, whose support helps us keep costs low for attendees.
Our next event is StudyWorld spring which will be held online on 22-23 March 2022.
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