BSC Edinburgh rewarded for UK ELT growth

Published 26/03/2018

British Study Centres Edinburgh was awarded Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s High Growth award in February, as numbers increased by 57% compared to this point last year, after focusing its strategy on the young learner market and CELTA teacher training courses.

The school saw student weeks rise from 3,301 in 2016 to 5,861 in 2017. Additionally, in 2014-15 the school ran two CELTA courses with around 10 candidates each – in 2017-18 it has 12 scheduled CELTA courses with 120 candidates.

“Just adult individuals [bookings] are currently 31% up on last year”

Alex Cann, school director in Edinburgh, told The PIE News that a dedicated groups team is focusing on group bookings.

“The majority of the groups are from Italy,” he said. “In the summer, we’ve had groups from Russia, Spain, France, Japan – a good mix of nationalities.”

The increase in demand for teacher training courses has been aided by growth of interest in teaching qualifications from Edinburgh University graduates.

“Last summer, we found for the first time is that we were getting a lot of overseas students feeding into our course from the master’s course at Edinburgh University,” Cann said, adding that the CELTA gave students practical experience that they may have been missing on theoretical TESOL courses.

“Historically it has been Brits taking the course, but the overseas students, we normally have a couple on each course, but the big influence seems to have been on the August and September courses.”

The growth has meant that the school converted unused office space into classrooms and is renting additional classrooms over the summer. Cann said that BSC Edinburgh is being forced to turn away business for this summer.

BSC is cooperating with agents, who bring in around 80% of business, according to Cann.

“With certain agents we guarantee them that we can find them a space, up to a certain capacity. We are looking after those who will either give us the volume, or the business in the quieter periods.”

However, it is not only junior bookings that have risen.

“Just adult individual [bookings] are currently 31% up on last year.” Cann said. “With adult individuals we get year round and then junior business is more seasonal, so we are trying to get longer term students in through the winter months.”

Sarah Cooper, CEO of English UK, told The PIE News that it is a little early to say whether this growth is replicated around the country, but the organisation promoting ELT in the UK is hopeful.

“It doesn’t surprise me to hear [that the junior numbers have increased.] The 2016 data showed that juniors for the first time had overtaken adults – [representing] 51% of all English UK member business,” she said.

“We have had three years of decline and 2016 was the third of those three years. We are expecting to see a much more positive year [in 2017 figures].”

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