Byers condemns UK visa policy

01 May, 2015

Eddie Byers, CEO of English UK, spoke of his concerns for the UK’s English language sector at the recent Beta Youth Travel Workshop in London, describing the UK’s visa process as a “weeping sore”.

Credit: Beta

Byers, who took over as Chief Executive of the language school association from Tony Millns in January 2014, added that the UK makes international students “jump through hoops” just to study in the country for a few weeks.

He said that overseas students should not be considered migrants as it drags them into the immigration debate when the UK should be more welcoming towards them. Currently, Tier 4 visa students are part of the UK’s net migration and must return to their home country after studying in the country, as reported by StudyTravel Magazine in January.

Describing international students as valuable visitors who bring £2.5bn to the UK in export revenues, Byers added that the UK is beginning to fall back compared to other ELT destinations such as Australia, which changed its promotional strategy and visa policy and saw a boom in growth, as seen in STM’s Market Analysis of Australia last year.

“UK government policies are impairing the performance of the industry,” said Byers. In STM’s Market Analysis of the UK in May 2015 issue, featuring data from 2014, he commented, “With the 2015 UK general election [May 7, 2015] too close to call, it is difficult to predict the likely impact on visa policy or attitudes to immigration from the incoming government. This means continuing engagement with politicians and civil servants in the run-up to the election remains crucial, and we are focused on this.”

The UK needs “better promotion on the global stage” in order to keep up with the rest of the world, Byers asserted, and he concluded that when the visa regime becomes easier, this will equal growth for the UK, which is also suffering from the strength of the pound.

Beta welcomed 147 delegates to the Youth Travel Workshop, which was held at a new venue, the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in Kensington. Beta’s next industry event is the Annual Parliamentary Reception 2015 on July 6.

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