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For English Language Schools, it is not just a question of airports reopening

FELTOM CEO James Perry highlights the complicated factors faced by language schools on their road to recovery

28 Mayıs 2020 Perşembe 06:08
For English Language Schools, it is not just a question of airports reopening

 For English Language Schools, it is not just when airports can re-open. Confidence in travel must reach a level where parents feel comfortable enough to send their children overseas to learn English.

CEO of the Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations in Malta (FELTOM), James Perry, shed light on the complicated factors at play for the industry when contacted by

“Even when the airport opens, the industry will take time to start seeing students coming back in. As you might imagine, the safety of the child is taken into account, as well as a lack of income that many parents may be experiencing at the moment,” he said.

Mr Perry shared that around 50 per cent of Malta’s English Language School students are under the age of 18. In 2018, roughly 87,000 English language students followed courses with local schools.

The sector was among the first and worst hit by COVID-19, with its target markets – namely France, Spain, Italy and Germany among the worst hit countries by the pandemic. By end March, 20,000 student arrivals have cancelled, amounting to a loss of €8.8 million to FELTOM schools, with the total loss to the Maltese economy currently standing at €23.7 million. The information came to light through a study commissioned by FELTOM and carried out by Deloitte Malta.

Mr Perry said that the major preoccupation to FELTOM at this stage is for schools to avoid redundancies and the question of how long Government assistance will last until after the airport is reopened.

In addition to a high degree of travel-confidence required for parents to send children overseas to learn English, the people of countries is it being discussed Malta form a safe travel corridor with do not typically visit Malta to learn English.

Recent media reports say that the Government is exploring the possibility of such an arrangement with Luxembourg, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania and Israel.

Turning to the current state of the sector, Mr Perry said the aim is to attain a cost-neutral situation. Language schools are currently receiving the full wage state subsidy, however they must still issue National Insurance contributions, while income remains nil.

Mr Perry said the sector directly employs some 2,000 people, but stressed that ancillary businesses cannot be discounted.

He shared that host-families have been getting in touch with FELTOM to inquire about bringing in any students. Mr Perry said that many supplement their pensions by hosting English language students and are longing to get back to providing this service.

Host families, grocers, landlords and transport companies are all set to feel the impact from the reduction in students visiting the island in 2020.

Main Image:

James Perry, CEO of FELTOM 

Helena Grech

27th May 2020

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