ESL Funding Cuts In The UK

bristol-uk-small.jpgThe UK is reducing funding and eligibility for free English language classes (I should point out that this is not really breaking news anymore…but developments are occurring all the time). Previously there was a policy which struck me as surprising: “universal entitlement”. The exact meaning in practice is not clear from what I’ve read, but from August of 2007, only those unemployed or receiving benefits will have access to free English lessons. Working individuals will have to cover at least 30% of the cost themselves, and this portion will rise to 50% within the next three years.

“This is likely to leave many thousands of people unable to afford language classes, including low income families in minority communities, refugees and asylum seekers.” According to an article from

In other countries which are destinations for large numbers of immigrants and refugees topics like this are a heated issue. Certainly people may well argue that there are distinctions between the different groups of people seeking lessons, and may be more willing to see refugees and asylum seekers benefit here. And in fact, concessions [have been] granted for asylum seekers, and regarding the funding cuts in general –

“Critics say there is a contradiction in the government’s stance: on the one hand encouraging greater community cohesion and welcoming the economic contribution of migrant workers – while putting obstacles in the way of many who wish to improve their English and contribute more to their community and the economy.”

I’ve only personally spent a few days in London, but must say that its cosmopolitan character is absolutely amazing and makes it unique. What effect will these new measures have – for English learners and for English teachers? It remains to be seen. The Education/TEFL section of the Guardian is a good place to go for updated information; also stay tuned to the TEFL Logue for more on this topic in the future.