UK has also just released a 14-point plan to set out how the British government can help “Kickstart UK ELT after COVID-19”. The recovery strategy is built around three pillars: business support for language schools, visa policies targeted for the sector, and new initiatives to market the UK as a language study destination.
English language teaching plays a key role in underpinning the UK’s wider education system by helping unlock the door for thousands of overseas students to courses at British universities and further education establishments. ELT is not only valuable in itself, but is a pipeline to the broader, wider educational offer.
The importance of the recovery plan can be weighed against the pandemic’s impacts on British ELT, which English UK estimates as more than half a billion pounds through the first three quarters of 2020. Based on a recent member survey, the association reports as well that “almost all” seasonal staff (which equates to roughly half of all sector employees) have been released. Roughly four in ten employees have been furloughed while another 10% have had adjustments to salary or working hours. This means that less than 10% are working as usual at this point. Those figures are especially staggering given the pre-pandemic economic impact of the sector, which is estimated at £1.4 billion with support for more than 35,000 jobs throughout the UK.
“UK ELT was hit earlier than other sectors and we only expect a moderate level of recovery in confidence among student travellers and their families in 2021,” says the recovery plan report. “We are also facing potential disruption – the perfect storm – from the unintended consequences of [post-Brexit] immigration regulations. Our asks of Government are focussed and targeted. They will help UK ELT to weather this storm, kickstart recovery, and retain our position as the number one global destination for students to learn English.