The COVID-19 pandemic is causing increasing global concern and will impact the ELT industry significantly.
More than 150,000 individual students attend courses with English Language Teaching Organisations (ELTO’s) in Ireland every year. The total value of the language school sector to the Irish economy (including direct, indirect and induced revenue) is estimated to be at least €880m. The sector employs 3,000+ workers full time and a further 7,000+ seasonal and part time workers.
The crisis hit our industry at the worst time possible as approximately 70% of our revenue is generated during the peak season from March to September. Based on current modelling we estimate that the decrease in revenue for the industry as a whole for 2020 will be in the region of 80%.
As part of the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all language schools and colleges were instructed to close on March 13th 2020. Classes moved online immediately. In anticipation of reopening for face to face classes when it is safe to do so, ELT providers introduced COVID-19 health and safety protocols to the school environment.
We have compiled information and resources that we hope will be useful for member schools and their students during this crisis.
This situation is ever-changing but we will endeavour to update the sector as things develop.
As ever, please refer to the official sources for information and treat with caution any information you see on social media.
A range of business supports have been announced by the government.
You can find more information here
Schools are also advised to open dialogue with banks, landlords, suppliers and other stakeholders.
Health Care Provision
Measures have been put in place to ensure the availability of health care services for international students. All international students studying in Ireland can receive public health services for the testing and treatment of the Covid-19 virus. These services are being provided free of charge.
Education Provision for current international students
MEI schools and colleges have immediately set about establishing online teaching platforms to enable course completion. These platforms are continuing to develop and are likely to form a key component of a blended learning (a combination of online and classroom tuition), as a long term part of the English Language Teaching infrastructure in Ireland.
A special COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 per week is available to any international student who lost their job as a result of the outbreak. For those international students in Ireland who had not yet engaged in employment while in the State, and are in need of assistance, the Government is providing financial supports under an Exceptional Needs Payments scheme.
The Irish Government has enacted legislation to protect those availing of rented accommodation in Ireland. This legislation includes rent freezes and prohibits evictions while Ireland is fighting the COVID 19 pandemic.
All permissions that were due to expire during the pandemic have now automatically been renewed. These extended permissions are on the same basis as existing permissions and the same conditions will continue to apply. For international English Language Students, the extension means that they may continue to work if they wish, but must also re-enrol in an on-line course of study to adhere to the conditions of their permission.
Furthermore, language students who left the State before completion of their studies due to COVID-19 may return and resume their studies and the duration of their absence will not count towards the 2 years maximum period of English language study allowed.
This is a testing time for international students. We strongly encourage schools to have clear and open communication channels with their students. They may need support and are likely to be uncertain of where to find the correct information.
Department of Education and Skills leaflet for Students (translated in 12 languages)
The welfare of our students has to be of uppermost concern: their physical and mental health, their living conditions, their academic progress, their general wellbeing in what is a foreign country in lockdown.
In This Together:
The Irish government have launched a new Campaign – In This Together – which aims to help everyone in Ireland to Stay Connected, Stay Active, and look after their Mental Wellbeing throughout the Covid-19 Emergency.
The Campaign encourages everyone to pick a new activity which could help them to feel a little healthier or a little better as we deal with Covid-19.
And it signposts useful advice to help people of every age group to cope with the ongoing restrictions, whether they are looking after children, dealing with self-isolation, preparing for exams, or coping with cabin fever.
In This Together will offer regular videos, ideas and activities for people of all ages throughout the Emergency, over social media, through our partners in the media and promoted by the Community Call Forums which have been set up across Ireland.
All this information is being made available on www.gov.ie/Together, on your local authority website, on social media, television, radio and newspapers throughout the Emergency and you can find details of local initiatives on your local authority website.