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BETA propose Youth Group Travel Scheme

Students from the EU are the focus of a proposed educational travel plan.

The impacts of losing freedom of movement, and the ripples of COVID-19, are starting to be felt further afield than merely the confines of the British Isles. Prior to 2019, the UK was a leader in ELT, attracting over 500,000 students a year. In 2022, the UK attracted only 239,576 – around a 45% decrease from pre-pandemic levels.

Not only does this loss impact the UK’s tourism industries, the changes to passport requirements in October 2021 makes the UK less accessible to young people learning English. Before this change, students could visit in supervised groups with just ID cards. Now, they must produce full passports, which many EU students do not have. As a result, a number of associations are trying to make a change by proposing the Youth Group Travel Scheme.

A plan to restore the UK as a leader in ELT.

The British Education Travel Association (BETA) are working with the Tourism Alliance, English UK, and others to bring the Youth Group Travel Scheme to the UK government.

BETA is a non-profit membership association that represent over 120 organisations across various international student and education sectors. BETA’s proposed scheme would allow students under 18 to enter the UK on a single travel document, boosting educational tourism and promoting the UK as an ELT hotspot.

Working alongside BETA, English UK plan to present a plan of action to the UK government on Thursday, 11 May 2023. Their policy position paper presents a devastating account of the UK’s fall from grace amongst international students, and the butterfly effect these losses have. Outlined in their paper, English UK state:

“This problem is of the UK’s own making. If the rules remain unchanged, European study travel agents do not anticipate a full recovery of the UK youth market until 2030. Almost 25% believe it will never recover.”

As well as introducing the Youth Group Travel Scheme, the paper implores the UK government to recognise the List of Travellers Scheme, help ELT centres to recruit seasonal staff, and support international UK ELT marketing efforts – amongst other important reforms.

There is power in numbers.

Currently, BETA is running a campaign to collect integral data measuring the impact and size of this problem. They are reaching out to those that work in organising school group travel from the EU to the UK about their experiences. The data they collect could be crucial in their argument for the Youth Group Travel Scheme and aid their negotiations with the UK government. Anyone involved in organising school travel from the EU are invited to spend two minutes filling out a short survey.

These plans come at a time of recovery from the pandemic, and could create a warmer welcome to EU nationals studying English, alongside reaping great benefits for the UK’s tourism revenue and ELT organisations.

For more information on the Youth Group Travel Scheme, visit BETA, the Tourism Alliance, and English UK. If you would like to take the survey, it can be found here.

Image courtesy of Freestock.org
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