COVID-19 is putting jobs at risk in the international education sector worth £300million to the local economy.

The industry has welcomed the lifting of quarantine rules for visitors to the UK from a host of countries – but warned that much of the damage has already been done.

Around 90 per cent of staff in language schools across the country are said to be on furlough, while trade body UK English has warned around 30 per cent of language testing centres will cease trading.

Around 50,000 international students a year come to the Bournemouth and Poole area.

Guido Schillig, chair of the area’s International Education Association, said: “The industry locally includes the universities, colleges, language schools and boarding schools. We bring over £300m to the local economy.

“The entire industry is affected. I would say that the universities, colleges and boarding schools are probably worst hit because they are most likely going to miss this year’s entrance of international students and they will carry that effectively on their back for up to seven years. They will be very hard hit.”

He said the summer business for the language schools had “totally gone” and it faced a challenging winter.

“As furlough comes to an end and people are coming back to work and there are no students to teach, I could see that having a dramatic effect among language schools,” he said.

“People will lose jobs and there could be some institutions closing.”

He said the decision to lift quarantine for visitors from some countries was “a start”.

Language school Anglo-Continental, of which he is managing director, plans to open on August 3.

“It’s a positive move but for us the summer is over and that’s where the language schools make hay to keep us going in the winter,” he said.

Mr Shillig called for other reforms, such as allowing students to make alterations to their visas while in this country. They currently have to fly back to their home countries to make such changes.

Bournemouth University said it had received more international applications than at this time last year.

“Many non-UK students, similar to UK, want to know and understand the type of academic and social experience they will have in September before fully committing to enrolling,” a statement said.

“It is a big decision to travel overseas to study, especially in the current situation, sometimes thousands of miles away from family and friends, and we are working hard to provide clarity at a course level regarding the academic blend of delivery every student can expect to have in the first semester to allow them to make an informed decision.

“There are many factors outside of our control, such as flight availability, and the availability of visa centres in home countries, however we are doing everything possible to support those who can and will come this September.”