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Irish lead the rush to buy British EFL schools

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nomad soul

Joined: 31 Jan 2010
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Location: The real world

PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 12:22 am    Post subject: Irish lead the rush to buy British EFL schools Reply with quote

Irish lead the rush to buy British EFL
By Melanie Butler, EL Gazette | November 2016

Overseas buyers have been rushing into the market to snap up medium-sized language school chains in the UK, where the results of two years of bad trading and the immediate consequences of Brexit have left many schools in financial difficulty. Peter Dewhirst of ELT Acquisitions told the Gazette that buyer interest is at an all-time high, a view confirmed by other ELT mergers and acquisitions specialists. The Irish have led the charge. Dublin-based investors Real Experience Limited have snapped up British Study Centres, adding the premium group to its recently acquired budget outfit, the English Studio. Steve Phillips, chair of English UK, has been put in charge of the British Study Centres operation, which consolidates the four year-round Experience English schools and the group’s summer operation, acquired from travel giant TUI, with the three BSC year-round schools, in addition to its summer school operations. Oscars International summer schools have also gone to an Irish operation, Malvern College Dublin, itself recently been bought out by management from its UK-based mother company.

Irish investors have not benefited from the break-up of the Skola Group, however, which has lost all three of its independent schools. The London-based International Community School has been sold to French investors, newly opened Newlands College has gone to a British educational group and the property of Alexanders College, the flagship boarding school on the East Anglian coast, is up for sale. Nils Toettcher and his wife Anne Alexander have retired, leaving their son Ben in charge of the two Skola language schools in London and Exeter, and Skola English Study Tours.

Other chains affected include LTC, which was rescued by its management after previous owners Japanese giant Geos collapsed. LTC London has closed, while the Brighton school has been merged with family-owned stalwart Language Studies International, leaving only LTC Eastbourne remaining. Language in London closed suddenly in October without the knowledge of its partner schools in Totnes, Devon, and Ireland – both of which continue to trade, though the Irish school has changed its name to Sandy Cove. Colchester International Study Centre, which was put into liquidation this summer with junior courses still running, has been brought from the liquidators by a Turkish group.

Among others to change hands are Bournemouth-based summer school operator International Quest, now called Anglo and in a new company with a different management structure. The group has nothing to do with Bournemouth fixture Anglo-Continental or Anglocontinental, whose trading name was brought by Cavendish School following the closure of the year-round operation in 2015. Westbourne School of English has been sold to Tower Hamlets Further Education College, a state-sector operator, which intends to open a language centre in London.

A bad year of summer trading in 2015 coupled with rocketing agents’ commissions – demands for up to 45 per cent have been reported – left much of UK ELT vulnerable, and the collapse of the pound following Brexit came too late to affect the peak July market, though numbers are believed to have risen towards the end of the summer season. With the US dollar high for the last two years, the Irish have been the main beneficiaries, and buying into the UK market is one way of balancing the currency risk between sterling and the euro.

Language travel and international education are unusual among international operators for not hedging currency in advance to protect against fluctuation, leaving it to the agents to take the risk. However, most agencies are too small to do so and many have been on the wrong end of the high dollar and sterling in recent years, pushing them to raise commissions to cover the risk. Record lost rates for sterling, however, should help both the UK schools and their agents.

(End of article)
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good riddance to the lot of them. I have not taught EFL in th eUK for some five or six years now, and have absolutely no plans to return.

The traditional features of teaching EFL in the U.K., such as low pay and minimal job security, served to kill the job as far as I was concerned.

So the fact that it has tanked and is being bought out makes me happy no end!
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