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British International English Language Schools

Volume 712: debated on Thursday 21 April 2022

2. What steps she is taking to help support British international English language schools recover from the covid-19 pandemic. (906450)

I thank my hon. Friend for, and congratulate her on her tireless work to support the sector. The Department will continue to support the English language training sector with both international student recruitment and the delivery of training overseas. We are supporting English UK’s “English with Confidence” campaign, which recognises the value of the sector to the UK economy—it supports more than 35,000 jobs and generates over a billion pounds each year.

I thank my hon. Friend for his response and for all the excellent work being done. Free of restrictions, English language schools in Eastbourne are beginning to power back after the pandemic, and it was a joy to see students return to Eastbourne over the Easter holidays. However, there are some concerns in the sector, specifically on group travel and visa requirements, which have led to fears that we could lose out to rival destinations such as Malta and the Republic of Ireland. What discussions has he had with his Home Office counterparts to tackle any of those potential barriers, to make sure that this remains one of our strongest exports?

I know the strength of the Eastbourne English language sector, and I believe my hon. Friend met alumni out in the United Arab Emirates; the spread of Eastbourne goes far and wide. The Department continues to work with the Home Office to work closely and constructively with the sector to support its recovery. That has included the introduction of a six-month allowance to study English at an accredited centre under the standard visitor route, meaning that EU students, together with nationals from more than 50 locations, can study for six months or less as visitors. We continue to work with the sector to ensure that we continue to remove barriers to it.