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UK: Education secretary visit buoys ELT sector

UK education minister Damian Hinds has visited an English language school in Scarborough to promote the ELT sector in the country and, he hoped, settle nerves around the potential impact of Brexit.

The coastal and picturesque town of Scarborough, Yorkshire, was the venue for Hinds' visit. Photo: Flickr/ Clare Black

English UK declared the visit "excellent"

At Anglolang College in Scarborough, Hinds met with both staff and international students, some of whom are part of the EU-funded Erasmus+ KA1 teaching program, which trains future ELT teachers.

“Erasmus+… is part of our vision for a global Britain”

Hinds remarked that English is a “global language… of business, of trade,” and added that this “will continue when we leave the EU in March [2019]”.

As well as the global power and attractiveness of the English language, Hinds also spoke of the government’s support for the EU projects such as Erasmus, along with its view that international students will remain important, and welcome, to the UK after Brexit is finalised.

“We place enormous value on international exchange schemes and collaboration – like Erasmus+ – all of which is part of our vision for a global Britain. That’s why we have guaranteed funding for students and organisations participating in this program to continue to the end of 2020,” he said.

In a statement the Department for Education confirmed this promise is “subject to discussions with the EU commission”.

A spokesperson for the English UK member and British Council-accredited school said the KA1 program is vital for the regional school to maintain year-round business.

“This enables our school to operate year-round in a highly seasonal marketplace, thus providing employment and income to staff and accommodation providers in Scarborough, not to mention the extra spending in the local economy and leisure venues,” they said.

Chief executive of English UK, Sarah Cooper, said the visit signalled an “excellent development” for the ELT sector, as a clear recognition of the cash it brings to the country’s economy.

“We were delighted to hear that the Secretary of State of State for Education had visited one of our member centres. I spent time talking to him about our industry earlier in the year, and he was really interested, so this is an excellent development,” she said.

“The Erasmus+ program is highly valued by English UK members who run extensive teacher training and development programs, and it is therefore good to see the Government taking note of this.

I believe this visit represents an increased interest in and understanding of our industry, and therefore recognition of its £1.4bn contribution to UK GDP, all of which is very welcome”.

“We believe that our submission to the MAC inquiry into the economic and social impact of international students made a very clear case to the government of the broad value of the ELT sector, and the part it plays in the wider international education field, one of the UK’s largest export industries, and hope that Mr Hinds’ interest indicates a growing official interest in what our members do,” Cooper added.

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