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Sterling crisis favours UK unis, but not yet language schools

“This is good news for international students,” one commentator on the woes of the pound, told Singapore’s Straight Times, noting this was around the time that UK university fees are due. With the Singapore dollar at an all time high against sterling, he also noted that there had never been a better time to take a holiday in London. 

The UK’s currency crisis may herald a tourism boom, especially from the US and a further increase in American undergraduates, already the fourth-largest source market for British universities, choosing to study in Britain. However, the impact on the language school market is unlikely to be so dramatic. 

While the Saudi Riyal has been trading higher against the pound for some months, thanks to the spiking oil prices, the Japanese yen and the Korean won have also been struggling against the US dollar and the fall in the pound has only had a minor effect on the exchange rate.

But what about the euro? The sterling rate against the European currency is key for UK language schools, because the euro is used not only by students from the European Union, but by the UK’s rivals for the European market, Ireland and Malta. Initially the pound plummeted to €1.07, but rallied to just 2% below its pre-crisis rate, barely enough to cover the exchange fees European students would have to pay to come to the UK.

If the sterling crisis worsens, and the pound falls further against the euro, as many believe it will, European enrolment in the UK should increase. A Harvard economist and former US Treasury Secretary has predicted the pound will be at parity with the euro by the end of the year and if that happens UK EFL should witness a boom.

In the meantime, Dublin, filled to the gunnels as it is with Europeans and Latin Americans,  has nothing to worry about – except running out of student housing altogether.

Image courtesy of jma659 from Pixabay
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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