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Chain school reactions to current economic climate

A  note  on the LAL school website has the message: “Due to local operational difficulties, from the 27th of June, LAL will no longer operate language courses from our school in Torbay.” 

This closure of the Devon school, founded in 1980, marks the end of a valiant attempt by management to rescue the group when, in 2020, the then owners, a German travel company, all but collapsed. With the US schools already closed and  the Maltese centre under separate ownership, LAL management put together a rescue package for the UK operations and the school in South Africa. “We are a small crew in a small boat rowing in a stormy sea,“ managing director Alex Perkins told the Gazette at the time.

With all three UK operations now closed, only one school, in Cape Town, bears the LAL name. 

Another similar message appeared on the website of Study Group Internationals’s boarding schools, which date back to 1959. “Due to changes in international student demand, we have taken the difficult but necessary decision to close Bellerby’s College in Brighton and London from 31 August 2022.”  

So Brighton loses a college just as international school superpower Nordanglia opens a new sixth-form college down the road using the Oxford International College (OIC) brand.

Study Group’s language schools, Embassy English, were sold off in 2019. The UK schools were immediately closed and later, during Covid, the Australian ones shut too. The Embassy  brand lives on in the name of the junior summer operations owned by EC. 

Another historic name seemingly on its way out is Eurocentres. Founded in 1948,  the language school chain was owned for 72 years by a Swiss educational trust, then sold to a German firm in 2018. In 2020, it went into a voluntary arrangement with its creditors and was taken over by Bayswater College. Having closed the Cambridge branch and merged the Brighton one with the local branch of Stafford House, the chain is currently known as  Bayswater College Eurocentres, but the Eurocentres name is expected to be phased out in the UK.

One chain, however, seems to be re-emerging: British Study Centres (BSC), which first moved into EFL in 2000. Its London and Manchester centres are back on the British Council accreditation list after being suspended following the liquidations of a BSC operating company in 2020. The York  school and the junior summer operations are also awaiting re-inspection. A sign, perhaps, that the havoc wreaked by Covid among UK chains is starting to subside.

Image courtesy of Jose Fontano on Unsplash
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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