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EC quits Australasia in Covid-19 shake-up

Maltese-owned language school group EC has closed its operations in Australasia as part of a restructuring in response to the pandemic. CEO Andrew Mangion explained that the group wants “to focus on the destinations that we believe are most open and willing to bounce back. Australia and New Zealand have clearly shut their borders indefinitely, with no credible expectation as to when they will be re-opened.

“We strongly believe that running language centres in such an environment, particularly where such countries are no longer prepared to support the impacts that their border closures are having on our industry, is unsustainable,” he added.

Two US centres, one in Miami and the other in Washington, DC, have been closed indefinitely. Its UK centre in Oxford will also go, the fifth closure in the university city, making it the hardest hit of England’s EFL destinations. Sources there have blamed the town government’s decision to refuse to waive the local taxes, known as business rates, on language schools.

In Cambridge, where most schools have been allowed the waiver, has seen only one language school closure in the city.

EC, whose own Cambridge school remains in operation, has established itself as a major international player in recent years. It entered the Australian market with its acquisition of the Embassy School brand in early 2019, keeping the Australian and New Zealand schools and the Embassy summer school brand while closing the centres in the US and the UK.

In his statement, Mangion acknowledges the impact of Covid-19: “The pandemic, which is now in its 15th month, has wrought havoc on our industry and many other travel-related industries around the world, on a level never seen in living history.

“While we are confident that there is still strong demand for our industry and growing pent-up demand to travel again, we believe that it will take time for student numbers to bounce back.

“We would rather have fewer numbers of schools and destinations, but healthier student numbers in our schools, and we want to right size our schools to this new reality.”

Image courtesy of EC
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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