September 2015 issue

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Home stay in the UK

Living with a UK family while studying is a popular option for international students, mainly because it offers them the opportunity to continue practising their language skills. Bethan Norris finds out more.

Students visiting the UK like to get a true experience of the British lifestyle and learn as much as they can about the city they are visiting,” says Erin Callaghan at Host International, based in London. “What better way to learn than to hear it directly from locals?” This view that host families offer a truly authentic British cultural experience is shared by many students coming to the UK to study, both on long- or short-term study trips.

And the opportunity to continue practising language skills outside the classroom is also an important benefit of this accommodation option, as Erin adds. “Students see homestay as a perfect opportunity to practice their language skills. Our hosts socialise and interact with their students giving them a chance to study the language on a conversational level.”

Many language schools in the UK recruit and manage their own homestay families but increasingly this service is being outsourced to private companies who specialise in this sector and offer homestay with families throughout the country. Of course, quality control and reputation is all important and many companies that offer homestays to overseas students in the UK are accredited with the British Council. Will Davies from HFS London, reports that the British Council registration means that they are required to re-inspect each host every two years. He adds, “We will do this more frequently or on a spot-check basis if clients or students have made us aware of any problems.”

Finding quality homestays to offer students is a key part of the business and one which is taken very seriously by providers. Most have their own policy of screening potential families. “Our homestay recruitment officer will speak for at least 20 minutes on the phone with someone enquiring about hosting to assess their motivations and the type of accommodation they have on offer,” says Will. “If she decides that this potential host conforms to British Council guidelines, she will ask her inspection team to get in touch to arrange an inspection. Typically two inspectors will visit the host, one spending at least an hour going through a visit report whilst the other takes up to 60 pictures of the property. It is interesting to note that we reject 30 per cent of potential hosts at inspection.”

James McCall from London Homestays, says that between 70 and 80 per cent of their bookings from international students are for homestays. He adds, “The homestays market in the UK has been growing for the last 10 years, with around 20 per cent growth year-on-year. However, in the last 12 months [numbers] have dramatically declined. The large number of student residences that have opened resulted in a number of schools taking large allocations at reasonable prices. The strength of the pound, financial uncertainty in the Eurozone and well-documented problems with Russia has meant a reduced number of language school students in general. This has resulted in schools desperately trying to cut their losses with their allocations. A lot of students who may previously have stayed in homestays have been placed in residences to fill the rooms. We hope this will even out as the market stabilises and schools reduce their residence allocation for the next academic student year.”

Despite a recent documented decline in language student numbers in the UK (see STM, July 2015, page 8), Michele da Silva from Britannia Student Services, says that their business has increased since becoming registered with the British Council in 2009. “We were one of the first of two accommodation suppliers to attain this recognition and, as a result, we have gained many more language school and agent clients who know they can trust us for our high standards. We have also expanded the number of families on our database and have become very specialised in matching students to the ideal homestay.”

Claire Sweeney from Homestay.com – an online booking platform for leisure travellers over the age of 18 – also agrees that the homestay sector in the UK is a growth market for students. The company, which was launched in 2013, offers homestay families in a range of countries but records that 37 per cent of student bookings are for the UK, followed by Ireland (20 per cent) and Canada (11 per cent). London accounts for the majority share of UK bookings (32 per cent) followed by Bristol (six per cent), Manchester (five per cent) and Brighton (five per cent).

Claire adds, “We’ve also added Video Call to our booking process which allows hosts and guests to see and speak with each other via video or audio call both before and after a booking is made. Our introduction of this video call tool in the booking process highlights the importance we place on the relationship between guests and hosts and finding not only the right home but also the right person.”

Language schools in the UK have to cope with high seasonal demand for programmes in the summer and homestay providers report that dealing with peaks in demand can be a challenge. “We tackle this with preparation and constant recruitment,” says Erin. “We base each year on the year before and prepare our families to be sure we will have enough to meet the demand. We also put more focus on recruitment at these times to meet the requirements.”

A selection of homestay providers in the UK

(Due to the complexity of the data, this article is only displayed in the digital issue of StudyTravel Magazine)

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of StudyTravel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.







Alpadia Language Schools  
Amauta Language School  
CERAN Lingua
don Quijote  
EF International Language Centers  
ELS Language Centers  
Eurolingua Institute  
International House World Organisation  
Kaplan International
Kings Education  
LAL Language Centres  
Oscars International  
Pro Linguis  
Quality English  
Sprachcaffe Language Plus 
St Giles International  
TLG - The Language Gallery  
Twin Group  

BASP - Buenos Aires Spanish School  

Ability English  
Cairns Language Centre  
English Australia  
ILSC Australia  
Impact English College  
Monash College  

Instituto Cultural IDIOMA  

Spanish World Institute  

YMCA International Language School  

Academia Tica  

Study Team Cuba  

Carlsbad International School  

ABLS - Accreditation Body for Language Services  
BEST in Bath  
Communicate School  
English Language Centre Brighton  
Experience English Group  
Heart of England Language School  
Inspiring Learning  
International House London  
Islington Centre for English  
Liverpool School of English  
Living Learning English  
Manchester Language School  
Oxford Royale Academy  
Sidmouth International School  
University of Liverpool  

Alliance Française Lyon  
Alpine French School  
Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne  
Ecole de Tersac  
France Langue  
inlingua La Rochelle  
Institut Français Riéra  
International House Nice  

BWS Germanlingua  
F+U Academy of Languages  

Atlantic Language Galway  
Donegal Language School Equestrian & Surf Centre  
Emerald Cultural Institute  
Galway Cultural Institute  
Horner School of English  
International House Dublin  
ISE - International School of English  
MEI Ireland  
University College Cork Language Centre  

Intercultural Institute of Japan  
Kai Japanese Language School  
Sakura House  
Yokohama International Education Academy  

Feltom Malta  
IELS - Institute of English Language Studies  
Magister Academy  

Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology  
English New Zealand  
University of Otago  

International House Belfast  

Paradise English  
Habla Ya Language Center  

International School of the Algarve  

Experience English Group  
Kilgraston Language and Activities School  

Bay Language Institute  
EC Cape Town  
Education South Africa  
Eurocentres Cape Town  
Good Hope Studies  
Inlingua Cape Town   
Interlink School of Languages  
International House Cape Town  
Kurus English  
LAL Cape Town  
Language Training Centre   

CLIC International House Spain  
Escuela de Idiomas Nerja  
Estudio Sampere  
Live Madrid SC School  
Malaga Instituto  

British International School Phuket - BCIS  
California Language Academy  
EF International Language Centers  
Summer Study Programs  
University of California San Diego  


Calgary Board of Education  
Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board  
Eastern Townships School Board  
Edmonton Catholic Schools  
Edmonton Public Schools  
English Montreal School Board  
Golden Hills School Division #75  
Greater Essex County District School Board  
Greater Victoria School District  
Halton Catholic District School Board  
Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced  
ITTTI Vancouver  
Langley School District #35  
Louis Riel School Division  
Ottawa Carlton District School Board  
Oxford Royale Academy  
Pembina Trails School Division  
Powell River School District #47  
Simcoe County District School Board  
St James - Assiniboia School Division  
Thames Valley District School Board  
Waterloo Catholic District SB  

Chaucer College Canterbury  
Chichester College  
Oxford Royale Academy  
Queen Ethelburga s College  

Barrie School, The  
High Schools International - HSI  
Menaul School  


Hult International Business School  
Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology  
Centennial College of Applied Arts and Technology  
Georgian College  
North Island College International  
St Clair College  

Bromley College of Further and Higher Education  
University of Liverpool  

University College Cork Language Centre  

University of Otago  

International School of the Algarve  
Summer Study Programs  
University of California San Diego  


Hult International Business School  


English Australia  

British Council  
Campus Living Villages  
Quality English  
Trinity College London  
Twin Group  

Homestay Technologies  

English New Zealand  


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