Speaking at The English UK Summit, Stuart outlined support plans that include a review into how the government and the ELT sector have responded to the pandemic.
“To those ELT centres trying to weather the storm… we are here for you”
The promise of support comes at a time when ELT centres in the country are facing numerous challenges, including an estimated loss of nearly half a billion pounds in revenue.
“I know English language training has been hit badly by Covid-19. There have been tough choices to make and heavy [burdens] to sustain,” said Stuart.
“To those ELT centres trying to weather the storm… I say this, we see you, we value you and we are here for you.”
During the seminar, interim CEO of English UK, Jodie Gray, highlighted how Covid-19 has caused serious financial problems for the sector.
“The impact of Covid-19 on English UK and English ELT was unexpected and unprecedented. We really started feeling the effects in February 2020, and we closed all of our teaching centres for face to face teaching at the end of March.”
In surveys held in July 2020, English UK member centres estimated an 81.7% reduction in student weeks between January and September 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
This would result in a £510 million revenue loss between those months as a direct result of Covid-19.
Stuart outlined ways in which the DIT plan to support the sector- which include a joint DIT/DfE education sector advisory group review into how the sector can be supported.
The DIT is also working with the Hungarian government on developing an “ambitious” nationwide language learning program supporting teachers and pupils to take ELT courses abroad.
“We hope this initiative will resume as soon as possible and I have written to the Hungarian secretary of state for education to reiterate our support,” said Stuart.
The minister also said that the DIT are leading a virtual mission to Vietnam with 40 ELT organisations taking part.
Gray told delegates that English UK will continue to support ELT centres, saying that the organisation has pivoted its focus and adapted its strategy in response to Covid-19.
“Our aim is to support English UK members through this crisis and to optimise the recovery of the UK ELT sector, both for our members and the wider global ecosystem, that includes our international agent partners,” she added.