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UK schools must assure int’l parents

UK boarding schools must show a united front when they are dealing with coronavirus and be more vocal about options they will offer prospective international students or risk harming enrolment numbers in 2020, a stakeholder has warned.

Up to 20% of independent schools in the UK could close permanently as a result of coronavirus. Photo: Bishopstrow

Parents in Hong Kong need assurances that if they were to send children to the UK, that they would be safe

If schools do not improve their strategies and assure parents of international students, those heavily reliant on income from international student fees could risk closing altogether, one agent has suggested.

“Schools are braced for a dose of tough reality”

Samuel Chan, managing director of Britannia StudyLink said schools concerned over low international numbers starting in autumn “will close down” if assurances to parents are not resolved.

“Schools in the UK need to act because the general feeling towards the UK, in general, is not very good over here in Asia,” he told The PIE News.

Particularly in Hong Kong – where Chan is based – local media reporting on the coronavirus situation in the UK has been met with concern by parents, while reports on an under-pressure NHS with insufficient protective equipment have been met with disdain.

“The one message that’s spreading in Hong Kong is pupils in the UK once they’re ill, they are asked to stay home, sleep, take rest, have a slight fever, that’s fine. And Hong Kong parents 100% hate it.”

Parents in Hong Kong need assurances that if they were to send children to the UK, that they would be safe. One option could be that they have access to private health care, Chan suggested.

Peter Woodroffe, deputy chief executive officer of the Independent Schools Association, has said that 15-20% of UK independent schools could close as a result of the pandemic.

The association’s chief executive Neil Roskilly has said schools are “desperate”.

“We’ve been operating for 147 years, and we’ve never seen anything like this,” he told The Financial Times, while chief executive of the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association, David Woodgate, said schools are planning to shut unless they can find new owners or funding.

“It’s not coronavirus alone but it was almost a final straw on top of other financial threats. Schools are braced for a dose of tough reality,” he said.

“We know that British education for younger years is the most highly sought after and of very high quality compared to the rest of the world.

“The demand for Australia or America would never match, but it’s which country fights the virus quicker and better that will define the demand,” Chan concluded.

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