As the managers of local accredited language schools, we are concerned about the outcome of the Government’s enquiry into international students.
We teach English to students from all over the world, who choose to come here because of the reputation of our education system and because they want to experience British culture.
It has been estimated that language students support 37,500 jobs nationally, bringing £1.4 billion into the UK’s economy. Eastbourne’s economy benefits to the tune of £20 million every year from the students living, learning and travelling here: they support jobs, give host families welcome extra income and spend a lot of money in local businesses.
Almost 60 per cent of our students come from the EU, the great majority staying for just a few weeks. These students can currently travel without visas. We are concerned that this may be at risk if post-Brexit immigration rules impose visas.
We were pleased that the Migration Advisory Committee’s enquiry for the Government recognised the value, both cultural and economic, of the international students who come to learn in and experience the UK. But we are disappointed that it does not go far enough to protect our industry. The report does not recognise the important role English Language Teaching plays in international students’ journey to our universities, suggest visa-free travel for EU students after Brexit, or acknowledge the damage that is being caused by students remaining within the net migration figure.
As MPs both Stephen Lloyd and Caroline Ansell have been supportive of our industry, recognising its importance as one of Eastbourne’s largest employers. We urge the large number of local residents who benefit both directly and indirectly from the presence of international student visitors to the town to assist us by asking Stephen Lloyd to continue to help to protect and grow our industry by working to ensure that visas are not imposed on short-stay language students from the EU.
Paul Clark, Principal, LTC; John Veale, Centre Manager, ELC; Christiane Lorenz, School Director, EF; Chris Savins, Principal, Twin English Centre; Richard Kelly, Principal, St. Giles International Eastbourne.