“English UK’s members are the heartbeat of this organisation, and my first priority will be to meet and listen to them”
Byers said that he hopes to continue and evolve the work of English UK, particularly with regard to engaging with political structures in the UK and Europe over issues such as student visas.
“This industry already makes a powerful and positive contribution to the UK’s global reputation,” he said. “English UK has played an important role in this over the last decade as a great advocate and support for the sector.”
No stranger to the international education industry, Byers has held director-level positions in both the public and private sector, most recently as Managing Director of the British Council’s Programmes and Projects arm. During that time he dealt with clients such as the UK and Scottish governments, the EU and a range of national agencies.
At the same time he was a director for Education UK, which promote the UK’s education offer to international students, and previously oversaw the Erasmus and Comenius scholarship and exchange programmes.
His experience also includes a six-year stint as director of Industry Engagement for VisitScotland, during which he helped to merge 15 area tourist boards and foster partnerships across the industry.
English UK, whose 472 members include university and further education college language departments, international study centres in independent schools, educational trusts and charities and private sector colleges, is “delighted” with the appointment, according to Sue Edwards, Chair of the Board.
Byers will relocate from Scotland to within commuting distance of London to take up the post in May. He will work alongside retiring Chief Executive Tony Mills from February, and plans to begin attending English UK events to meet its members from March onwards.
“English UK’s members are the heartbeat of this organisation, and my first priority will be to meet and listen to them. I want to see what English UK does through their eyes,” he said.