Sunday, May 26, 2024

Summer studies

Do you know what you’ll be doing?

Summer is coming, but as we went to press, the fate of 2021 summer schools was still hanging in the air. Whether it’s the standard English and activity packages or the increasingly popular academic study courses, the reported demand is sky high, but as Covid continues to surge in many of the main markets, it remains unclear if and when they can open.

In terms of vaccine roll-out, the UK and Malta – which have been leading the EU in their rate of vaccination – look to be in pole position. If vaccine passports are the key to unlocking language travel, however, it’s good news for the adult market, but bad news for the under-16s, as vaccines are not yet licensed for use with this age group.

One big summer provider said that, though demand was high, because the UK was seen as safe, the likelihood of students being allowed in by the beginning of July was about 50/50, depending on the Covid rates in the country they were coming from. It’s looking better for August, when infection rates are predicted to drop.

Many centres are planning online offers which are likely to go ahead anyway, given that the huge Chinese market is unlikely to be able to travel. Indeed, many schools have never stopped their online junior courses – IH London Young Learners has been running morning or afternoon classes throughout the winter and spring – complete with a free online social programme. Academic courses are leading the online offerings from SBS and Bucksmore, as well as from well-known boarding school providers like St Clare’s, Oxford, though all are also planning to open. In Ireland, Emerald Cultural Centres is offering its English and STEM courses with Trinity College Dublin both face-to- face and online.

EC is looking to go one step further on the digital highway by offering an English language summer school through virtual reality, as owner and founder Andrew Mangion explains on page 20.

Some summer providers have come up with another solution: offering students face-to-face summer school courses in their own countries. Exsportise is offering its new-look British summer school courses, with the focus on 21st-century skills in both Austria and France, while Wimbledon School of English has teamed up with France Langue to offer English and surfing in Biarritz. Both schools are still hoping to open in the UK too.

Image courtesy of Aurelien Vivier
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