United Kingdom

40,000 jobs at risk as foreign students avoid UK language schools | languages

Language schools for international students are “devastated” by a combination of post-Brexit bureaucracy and the impact of the pandemic, threatening the future of an industry worth £ 3.2 billion, tourism leaders have warned.

A report by the Tourism Alliance says that although the government has suspended travel arrangements with Covid, ministers have imposed unnecessary restrictions on children from France, Germany and other EU countries.

This caused a collapse in school group reservations and an approximately 80% drop in industry revenue this year, threatening 40,000 jobs, the Tourism Alliance said.

By 2021, more than 1.5 million children come to the UK each year to study English or on organized school trips, which is about 11% of total annual tourism revenue.

Before Brexit, groups of children could travel with ID cards under the Traveler List scheme.

Every child now has to have a passport, and children with non-EU passports – including refugees – also need a £ 95 visa. Schools choose to go to Ireland or Malta for English travel or not to travel at all.

Kurt Jansson, director of the Tourism Alliance, said the passport requirement had “a devastating impact on a large number of small businesses and local communities.”

“The collapse of the school group market is unnecessary, as students do not pose a security risk, will not disappear into the informal economy and start driving minibuses, and parents who let their children go on school trips usually have a strong desire for their teachers to bring them home.

“This is an obvious situation where the government has to put aside its dogma dogma and work with industry to find a practical solution.

Many language schools are concentrated in maritime cities on the south coast of England. In Hastings, the council says only seven of its 20 language schools and tour operators have confirmed that they are still operating.

One is Senlac Tours, which usually brings about 15,000 children, mostly from Berlin, to Hastings each year. They stay with local families, learn English and visit British cultural destinations.

“We haven’t had groups since March 2020,” said Nicole Tageb, executive manager. Many employees have been laid off.

“If it weren’t for our boss, to put money aside, sell his home, sell his office and support the company in this way, we might not have survived,” she said. “We just hope to get back to business.

“First we had Brexit, then Covid, and now the war in Ukraine – this is another nail.

The company’s first group after Covid is due to arrive from Germany by bus this month. Covid’s restrictions in European countries make things more complicated, but the passport requirement has repelled many parents.

“It costs about 450 euros per child,” Tageb said. “Now it will cost another 100 euros.” Many do not even think to travel anymore – not all Germans have passports and about 15% of students in Germany are citizens of other countries.

About 22% of the city’s jobs – 7,030 – are supported by tourism, according to Hastings City Council.

“We think the language schools cost £ 35 million for the local economy,” said Kevin Burman, the council’s marketing manager.

“People elsewhere don’t understand that Hastings is the most needy city in the South East of England. The loss of students affects the whole city. We know that Hastings is improving and the tourism industry is providing entry-level jobs. The loss of language students is a huge blow to any generation. “

Juan Japes, director of membership at English UK, the trade body for language schools, said 15% of members were permanently closed. “There are another 15% who are not sure if they will wait for the year,” he said. “We can see a 30% loss across the country.