A year ago we polled language schools about what impact, if any, they had seen from the Brexit vote. It was a couple of months after the referendum and everything very much felt still up in the air. One year on, and the feedback we have received is that English Language Schools in the UK remain mainly unsure about what impact the referendum result has actually had on course bookings.
This is not to say there has been no impact. Let us focus first on the positive: the weaker pound. Paul Clark from LTC Eastbourne explained that they:
“have benefited from the fall in the pound”.
The weaker pound has meant students could either choose to get more “bang for their buck” by buying more lessons than they would have otherwise or simply got the same quality and quantity for a lower price. Whichever option, it was good for students who were considering the UK. One school, however, notes that whilst the courses may be cheaper:
… more subtle changes may be coming long.
Indeed, today the Bank of England hinted at the prospect of higher interest rates which is seeing the pound strengthen so a lower pound cannot be relied on.
Amongst those who were unsure about the impact of Brexit, unfortunately there were not positive anecdotes. There were reports of some agents now actively looking for and promoting other destinations.
A theme which continued from last year’s survey is that schools reported that for potential clients considering them, Brexit was providing a negative perception.
It is this issue of perception versus what has actually changed, legally and financially, that is so challenging for determining the impact of Brexit. Broadly, it seems that school are finding Brexit has not helped their or the UK’s reputation with people considering the UK as a place to study. On the financial side there has been a real change thanks to a weaker pound. On the legal side, everything is exactly as it was before the referendum so as long as applicants understand this, which is not a given, then it should not impact demand much. As the details of the Brexit negotiation begin to become clearer on issues such as ease of movement between countries, then the industry will be better placed to plan for the future.
In total 14 schools took part in our survey. Of these 13 were based in England and one in Wales. The survey was conducted between 09 September 2017 and 13 September 2017. We would like to thank all the respondents who took part.
If you have any questions, please contact press[at]goenrol.com or if you are a school then please email schools[at]goenrol.com