Visa Crunch

UK’s first Summer Green List excludes main student sectors

With summer approaching, policymakers around the world are weighing the importance of reviving their tourism and trade markets against the threat of another COVID outbreak. Several countries are making public lists of countries from which citizens, including students, can cross their borders without having to pass via quarantine. These lists, of course, have far-reaching consequences for summer language programs and other short courses.

Only citizens from countries on the “Green List” will be able to access the UK without having to self-isolate or quarantine starting on May 17th. From the 17th of May, the Green List will be checked every three weeks, and modifications will be made if required.

Following is the first Green list:

  • Portugal
  • Israel
  • Singapore
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Brunei
  • Iceland
  • Gibraltar
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island

“The brevity of the green list, as well as the exclusion of several primary source markets, including most of Europe, along with the cost of testing and continuing quarantine steps, present devastating obstacles to doing business for the UK ELT sector,” English UK said in response to the government’s publication of the list. 

Even before the list was published, one-third of English UK members anticipated no recovery in 2021, and two-thirds expected a return to pre-pandemic sales and industry of less than 40%.

What would the Summer be like?

The first Green List will be revised in June, at which stage – if vaccination and infection rates in source markets increase – more countries could be added. However, one stumbling block is that younger students are unlikely to be completely vaccinated by then.

“If vaccination passports are the secret to unlocking language travel… it’s excellent news for the adult industry, but poor news for children under the age of 16 because vaccinations are not yet available for use with this age group,” writes El Gazette.

Meanwhile, providers are preparing to expand their online services, and some are also launching ELT programs in markets outside of the UK. As innovative as many schools have been, the fact is that cultural immersion – the opportunity to learn with peers in a leading English-speaking destination – is a big part of the appeal of learning English in the UK. Many schools are communicating clearly about generous cancellation plans and protection protocols, but the sector also needs more government funding.

Rising demand post-COVID

Some expect that after the pandemic is over – at least to the extent where economies and borders reopen and life returns to normal – there will be a massive revival in foreign travel.  

According to recent studies, the idea is true. For reference, 82% of American families have already made plans to travel in 2021, and: 

  • 65 percent of respondents expect to fly more than they did before COVID;
  • 33% are able to spend more on travel than they normally would;
  • 54% believe they are more likely than ever to take their bucket-list trip this year.

Many of these indicators contribute to a significant increase in demand for research travel. The concern is when and how soon the regeneration can take form, as it has been for some time.

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