Sarah Cooper, Chief Executive of English UK, at the English UK South West Conference
UK South West showcased amid sector recovery

A recovery of the UK ELT sector in 2017, key industry data and the latest academic updates were among the topics at the English UK South West Annual Conference on October 21, where the regional language school association showcased the area to agents.

Held at Millfield School, a private boarding school and summer ELT provider in Street, Somerset, the one-day event welcomed school owners, marketers, administrative and academic staff for a professional development programme covering business, management, teaching, agents and student services.


"We are really seeing a recovery in UK ELT," was a key message from English UK Chief Executive, Sarah Cooper, who explained that the upturn commenced in the last quarter of 2016 and has continued through the year.


She cited the weakened pound sterling as a main reason for the recovery, but added, "Innovation has helped; some savvy providers are looking at new products and new delivery models."


Discussing association initiatives, she outlined the importance of securing more timely data and said that the Quarterly Intelligence Cohort (QUIC) initiative launched this year "was just the beginning".


In terms of political lobbying, she said, "English UK is sitting at every one of the right tables to influence policy." Referring to her appearance at the recent party conferences of the two main political parties, she said, "UK ELT has never had such an opportunity."  She added that English UK was working in partnership with the British Council to develop a promotional campaign for China.


In a session on industry data, Matthew Knott, News Editor of StudyTravel Magazine, revealed that the UK has received the largest share of business in seven of the 12 agency surveys that the magazine has conducted in 2017, namely: China & Hong Kong, Czech Republic, France, Poland, Russia, Switzerland and Ukraine,


He provided a sneak preview of StudyTravel Magazine's Global Market Report comparing trends in the major ELT destinations, which will be released in the December issue of the magazine, as well as comparisons of agent-based recruitment in the major ELT markets from the publication's annual surveys of ELT schools, showing Australia and New Zealand had the highest rates of agent-based recruitment in 2016.


Dovetailed with the conference, English UK South West hosted an agent fam trip, its third of the year. Ella Tyler, who was announced as the new Chair of the association during the conference, told StudyTravel Magazine, "We always have a high number of agents that want to visit the region, which is very reassuring."


Echoing the recovery sentiments expressed, Ella said that 2017 had generally been a good year for the South West region. "It has definitely been an improvement compared with the previous year. The European markets are still buoyant."


Elsewhere, the conference featured a student services session from Elizabeth McLaren on British Council Inspections from 2018, and a seminar on safeguarding for adults by freelance trainer Nigel Heritage.


Linguistics author, lecturer and broadcaster David Crystal delivered an opening plenary on 'eloquence for all' in which he outlined tips for successful public speaking, while freelance trainer and consultant Thom Jones provided a closing session on the 'shifting sands of international education', including observations on working with agents and innovative ways of cementing agency partnerships.


See StudyTravel Magazine's Grapevine section for a gallery of images from the English UK South West Annual Conference.



By Matthew Knott

News Editor