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Foreign language students bring us £207m ... don't cut them off
11:24am Monday 11th March 2013 in News
THE English language industry is worth £207million to Dorset, with the bulk of income ploughed back into the Bournemouth economy.
Foreign students across the UK generate a staggering £2.5billion, according to latest figures from English UK, the national association for accredited language schools.
Outside Greater London, where the estimated value of foreign students is almost £931million, Dorset benefits most.
Scotland is third in the table with Brighton and Hove in fourth place and Oxfordshire fifth.
Language school boss Mike Francis MBE said: “Foreign students bring an incredible amount of money to Bournemouth where there are 24 accredited language schools.
“It is a huge industry which is helping many host families to weather the recession.
“Our figures have been slightly affected by visa problems but fortunately the industry seems to be recession-proof.
“The weak pound is working to our advantage, giving visitors more money to spend here.
“Tourism generates £590million a year for Bournemouth, with foreign students contributing a third of that amount.
“It’s a massive cash injection for the area. Our language schools and standard of host family accommodation are rated very highly across the globe.”
Mike, who is MD of Westbourne Academy and has been involved in the foreign language industry for more than four decades, hopes ‘scaremongering’ doesn’t pave the way for tighter visa controls.
He said: “Immigration has become a big political issue but, in all my years in the business, I’ve never come across a single foreign student from a language school who has become an illegal immigrant.
“We want the government and UK Border Agency to work with us and be more supportive to this very vital industry.”
The Home Office is currently looking at introducing visa restrictions for short-term visitors from Brazil, which could cost the country 7,500 jobs.
Mr Francis told the Echo: “I agree with immigration controls but if Brazilian students can no longer request their visitor visa on arrival in the UK it will cause delays, increase costs and ultimately mean that they will choose to go elsewhere.”