By Lewi
(Managing Director)

Firstly, I have to start this post with the full disclosure, I went to private school…although it was very different back in my day with 30 students to a dorm room, cold showers and rubbish food.

Although it didn’t do me too much harm, fast forward, (a few years) the private independent school sector in the UK has developed itself tenfold. I now have my own children studying at an independent school; not just for the cutting-edge facilities and exceptional educational tuition; our reason for sending them was simple, we want their ‘soft skills’ to be nurtured and to be given opportunities that we felt are not available to students in State Schools.

As I write this, not only do we face the complications of a global pandemic, but the reality that Brexit is fundamentally changing the way in which the UK and Europe will interact.

The student visa changes that will be coming into place because of Brexit are a good example of this and will have a profound impact on the freedom of education for European students aiming to come to the UK for a High School placement.

At present, state-funded schools will not be eligible to sponsor under 16-year-old students with visas, meaning that state funded (publicly funded) colleges will need to take their place to welcome students, but only 16+.

In addition to this programme no longer being available to under 16’s, the key difference, students, agents and parents will see with state-funded colleges replacing state-funded schools is a large increase in cost, despite no discernible increase in quality of the programme they receive. The cost increase will be due to the fact that colleges can and will now charge tuition fees, which we estimate is likely to be in the region of between £7,500 to £12,000 per year. Note, these are tuition fees alone, you then have the costs of host families and guardianship on top.

In short, the reality is that an EU student attending a school / college this year for free will have to pay for the exact same experience next year.

Over past 6 years, approximately 30% of our annual intake of students onto our state-funded school programme has come from under 16-year olds and so to continue offering this enthusiastic group of young learners an alternative model, is the independent school pathway.

UK independent schools have been running the CAS visa system for years and so the change for European students will be seamless.

The move to treat EU students in the same way as students from the rest of the world has allowed us to create an exciting opportunity that offers 15 to 18-year old international students a study abroad placement programme that forgoes the usual expensive boarding fees and for the independent school market allows them to welcome a wider audience.

Instead of boarding accommodation, this new “hybrid” programme will see students attend an independent school on a ‘day pupil’ basis whilst living with one of our local hand-picked host families. The students will be exposed to the wrap around services offered by the school and supported through the cultural changes by a local host family

This is still a relatively expensive programme with prices starting from £22,250 per year. However, the benefits of attending an independent school (namely the reasons, I myself send my own children – quality educational provision, access to world-class facilities, personal development, opportunities provided and ability to focus on subject or sport interest) when plotted against other international programmes and private boarding school options from around the world makes this programme feel real value for money.

We have now launched information of our ‘Independent School with Host Family’ programme, which can be downloaded here. We are also inviting agents to find out more and join us for a Q&A Webinar taking place on either Monday 30th November at 10:00 (GMT) or Tuesday 1st December at 15:00 (GMT). Click here to register your interest in attending.