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Evgeni Govor, Baltic Council for International Education, Latvia

Evgeni Govor is chairman of the board at Baltic Council, an international education agency operating in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. He shares his thoughts with The PIE on the future of ELT for students from the Baltic nations, their preferences when it comes to destination, and his hopes for the future of language learning across Europe.

The PIE: How is the demand for English language changing in Latvia around the Baltic states?

"I would say the Baltic people do not often think about Brexit and its impact"

EG: The demand for English language I would say today, it is stable. Maybe over the last two years there was a little decrease in the demand for adult language courses. As for the junior market and young adults, it is increasing year on year. This year our company has an increase of about 80%, and for the next year we see the forecast increasing again.

The PIE: What are the specific areas you are hoping to grow?

EG: It is an interesting question, as in our company we have different departments. As the academic department, we are focused on our services. University placement services will be growing, this year we have about 200 students who have used our services to attend UK universities. For next year we forecast more than a 100% rise.

Then as for the boarding schools, the demand is stable. Every year we send about 50 students to UK boarding schools and colleges, and the main courses students choose are GCSE, A-level, the IB program and others. There will definitely be an increase in the executive direction, executive and professional English language courses in the UK and other countries.

“Today, up to 90% of our clients choose the UK as a destination of study”

The PIE: Can you talk to me a little about other countries outside of the UK? Where else does the Baltic Council send students to and how are they changing?

EG: UK educational institutions, the English language courses in universities and colleges, remain the main market for the Baltic students. Today, up to 90% of our clients choose the UK as a destination of study, first of all because of the high quality, because English language came from the UK. And the universities have a very high reputation in the world, for their quality and for future employment opportunities.

This year, we introduced new destinations for our customers because in the past it was 90% UK, but this year we are seeing the demand increasing for Canada and Malta. We forecast other languages than English will be popular as well, because of the high level of English language among the young people in the Baltic states. We forecast that they will be interested in learning other languages as well, German and French will come soon.

The PIE: Why are Canada and Malta popular with Baltic students?

EG: Malta, I would say it is because of the weather. If you promote UK as a study destination for the English language, we say that if you go to the UK, you can study English plus culture and entertainment.

[But] we say that if you like to have very good holidays, culture, history, plus English, please go to Malta.

Canada’s attraction is that it’s something new. People would like to see other countries outside of Europe to learn more about this history, the culture, the people. That is why this year we tried the first group to Canada and it was so successful. The group to travel in July was full by the end of February.

The PIE: There is hope that Brexit might not affect European students’ wish to come to the UK. Is it the same in the Baltics?

“For our people, the Baltic people, it is not so important whether visas will be introduced”

EG: Since the procedure of Brexit was announced I would say the Baltic people do not often think about Brexit and its impact.

People will still go to the UK to study, parents still choose UK institutions for their children to study, and today it is very difficult to forecast how it will influence our industry and people in the Baltics.

But talking again about the high quality of UK institutions, like in a luxury shop, if it is quality, it will not disappear. It’s the same for UK institutions, even taking into account the worst scenario of Brexit, we will have demand from clients thinking about high quality education for their children for their future.

The PIE: If Baltic people lose the right to stay and work, do you think this will have an effect? Or do your clients usually come straight home after studying?

EG: I would like to mention the statistics that announced 97% of students graduating from universities in the UK return to their home countries.

What we see as an example in our students is that more and more young people graduating from universities in the UK, in reality they are coming home.

For our people, the Baltic people, it is not so important whether visas will be introduced or there will be no possibility to find a good job, because the majority of people choose the UK to get high quality education and to use this education not just in the UK, but in today’s global world.

The PIE: Tell us about your company, the Baltic Council for International Education, can you tell me about anything exciting that you have coming up?

“People would like to see other countries outside of Europe to learn more about this history, the culture, the people”

EG: Every day we receive new CVs and motivational letters from young people hoping to work for our company. It is very exciting to read them and to see how enthusiastic people are to find a job with the Baltic Council. We recently announced several positions within the company and we are hoping for the young generation, for young people with ambitions to help us realise our own ambitions.

The PIE: Where do you think that is going to take you with the young generation? What is your hope?

EG: I hope that the Baltic people will come together and represent in the future in other countries, maybe the whole world.

The PIE: Is there anything final you want to add?

EG: I would like to wish all the agencies all the success in the new academic year, not to think about Brexit and its impact but to think about today’s situation and how to go further and develop new skills and new ideas and how to build a future.

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