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April 15, 2010

New UK rules will significantly reduce the number of Japanese students in Britain and could put language schools out of business

UKflag.jpegNew rules announced by the British government will ban non-EU students from studying English in the UK for more than six months on any course below upper intermediate level or studying any subject apart from English below the level of a first-year university course. The EL Gazette reports: 'Language schools could lose 15 to 25 per cent of their business as a result of these changes, with student numbers from Korea and Japan, the two biggest provider countries, expected to be particularly badly hit. Students from these markets, neither of which is highrisk in terms of immigration abuse, generally arrive with spoken English below B1 level and enrol in courses of at least nine months in order to improve their oral and aural skills.'

Melanie Butler, Editor of EL Gazette, comments: The British government 'has decided to clamp down on bogus colleges by banning students from Korea and Japan – neither famous for being full of would-be illegal immigrants – from studying English in the UK for more than six months unless they already speak it. These two countries, the biggest markets for the British English-language industry, are among a group of special ‘non-visa countries’ deemed so safe that their citizens can come in as tourists without visas and study for up to six months. However, according to UK Immigration, these students might abscond the minute they study for more than half a year.'

'Frankly there are probably more English teachers working illegally in Korea – about 12,000 according to the Korean government – than there are Koreans working illegally in the UK .'

'There are countries from which it is fairly wise not to recruit EFL students. Chinese language students have in the last few years been banned from Canada, the USA, Malta, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and – the latest in the list – Bermuda. Not because the majority aren’t genuine (they are), but because a significant minority could be illegally entering with the help of criminal gangs. But to suggest Argentinians and Taiwanese present the same problem is as fatuous as arguing that students whose spoken English is poor are more likely to run off and get illegal jobs than those whose speak it well. The UK government argues just that: if you don’t speak English at B2 level, you’re obviously a danger to the state.'

'What’s the evidence that these measures reduce illegal immigration? There is none.'

The ELT Gazette is a global newspaper for teachers of English and all ESL/EFL professionals worldwide. Click here for the EL Gazette home page.

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