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258 The Story of Parliament


English UK


The world’s leading English-language teaching association ensures that its members’ courses are of the highest standard


F


or many language teachers, where you study is crucial. “We believe that the best place to learn English is the home


of the language,” says Annie Wright, Deputy Chief Executive of English UK. “We also believe that when choosing an English- language course, the top thing to look for is quality. Choose an English UK member centre, and you’re guaranteed both.” English UK is the national association of accredited English-language centres, and the world’s leading language- teaching association. Headquartered in London, the charity was created in 2004 after the merger of two long-established English-language member organisations, with the aim of representing the UK sector with one voice and one name. It also runs an inspection service alongside the British Council—Accreditation UK—so as to maintain quality across the sector.


Wide-ranging work “Our work is incredibly wide-ranging and is so much more than the promotion of the study of English,” says Wright. “For students, we ensure the highest quality of teaching, as well as a full support system that includes a complaint’s procedure and a student emergency fund. For the sector, we provide professional development to ensure that the UK retains its reputation as the world’s leading international education provider.” English UK’s external work is just as abundant, running


a full programme of training events, workshops and national conferences to ensure that all members have access to the latest thinking in the sector. “One of the biggest is StudyWorld, which we’ve been running annually since 1969,” says Wright. “Today it caters for around 850 of the industry’s leading educators and agents. We also run four smaller workshops—the English UK Fairs—in different world regions every year.” Equally important for the charity is its lobbying work.


“We represent our 470-plus member centres, and the sector as a whole, to the UK government and other organisations, both at home and overseas,” says Wright. English UK is also a member of various working groups such as the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) International Education


“For students, we ensure the highest quality of teaching, as well as a full support system”


Council and the Home Office’s Sponsorship Working Group, which deals with the practical implications of visa applications.


Te forgotten export industry A 2011 BIS report showed that international students studying English in the UK are worth some £2.5 billion to the economy, but, as Wright says, the industry is still comparatively unknown. “It doesn’t occur to most that English Language Teaching [ELT] is an export industry, and that each student is bringing value into the area from overseas,” she says. “However, being relatively small and close-knit has many positives: it means the industry still runs on face-to-face contact and handshakes, and our partnerships are built on real trust.” And it’s a system that’s working. English UK was voted the


best school association in the Study Travel Magazine Star Awards five times between 2007 and 2013, making the charity a Star Awards Superstar—and barring the charity from being nominated again. Wright believes such recognition is warranted for a multitude


of reasons. “We have a very diverse range of member centres compared to other ELT destinations,” she says. “Students can choose to study almost anywhere in the UK, from a buzzing city-based university to a tiny family-run school. We also provide a huge variety of courses, whether that’s Business English for executives, academic English for students or something as esoteric as English with flower arranging for holidaymakers!” In 2014, English UK celebrated its 10th anniversary with


a members’ dinner and a small celebration at the charity’s Annual Conference. Future plans include expanding its audience in Central and Latin America, as well as China. For all of its success, English UK refuses to rest on its laurels.


“While we are proud of our achievements in our first decade,” says Wright, “we are keen to look forward and develop our offering for the next. Te industry is evolving fast and we need to be at the forefront to ensure the next decade—and beyond—is even better.” — www.englishuk.com


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