£5.4m income for city is welcome in any language
FOREIGN language students are pumping £5.4million a year into Plymouth's economy, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) says.
The organisation, a Government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy, highlighted the figure to support a drive by language schools to bring more overseas students to the South West – and benefit the wider economy.
The affiliation of language schools, English UK South West, is working with UKTI to encourage people to learn English in the region and is looking to attract students from new markets, such as South America and Asia.
English UK said overseas language students contributed the £42.5million to Devon's economy in 2010.
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Of this, £5.4million went into Plymouth, £12.7million to Exeter and £5.5million to Torbay.
English UK member Susan Brearey, who is the director of the Suzanne Sparrow Language School, in Plymouth's North Road East, said: "All our members are keen to grow and the connection with UKTI helps us to reach out to markets that we could not otherwise develop."
The association is planning to attend a series of trade fairs including in Jordan, Macau and Peru, and is working with Visit England to encourage more students to consider visiting the South West instead of staying in London.
Ms Brearey added: "Language schools are an important source of foreign income for the economy and channel a great deal of money into local businesses, through accommodation, shopping and visitor attractions.
"We also have a high number of students who return year after year, having enjoyed their time here.
"The South West has much to offer students of all ages, from its landscape and culture to history and entertainment and we have to capitalise on these assets when we encourage people to come and study here."
English language schools bring about £2billion into the national economy each year, the Department for Business said, and £262million into the South West region, based on the number of students.
That includes a whopping £161.7million going to Dorset, where Bournemouth pulls in £150.1million.
Bristol attracts more than £24million and Bath £16.1million.
Andy Watmore, UKTI trade adviser, said: "As well as working closely with individual schools, working with English UK South West gives the region a higher profile when overseas students decide where to study.
"We were able to help the association gain European Regional Development Fund money for an annual conference and are giving expert advice and assistance on certain overseas markets they are targeting through our Passport to Export programme."
English UK South West was established in 2009 and has 26 member centres covering an area stretching from Bristol to Dorchester in the east and Truro in the west, with all members accredited by the British Council.