Working to support school group travel between the UK and EU by retaining support for the List of Travellers scheme.
The List of Travellers scheme was established to ease the movement of school groups around the EU. It meant that children and young people on school trips did not need a passport or visa to enter other EU member states. Instead, a single document would cover all students within that group, escorted by their teachers.
The scheme was of particular benefit to schools with students from outside the EU. For example, if a school in Germany had students from Turkey, those students did not require their own visa for a week-long trip to France or the UK. The whole group could travel together with one document.
As part of the BREXIT immigration changes, from October 2021, all visitors to the UK will require a passport. ID cards, which are currently held by many young people in the EU, will no longer suffice. Additionally, most non-EU students will also require visas to enter the UK. These changes will incur additional cost to families, and travel planning complexities for schools and tour operators.
Is this just a problem for the EU?
No. This is most definitely a problem for the UK on two fronts.
The UK has long been a primary destination for school, student and youth travel. Tourism is already the UK’s fifth largest contributor to GDP, with Students and young people make up a third of all visitors to the UK, most of whom are travelling for some sort of educational visit, whether that be on a school trip for a week or two, or to study full-time at UK schools and universities. Compared to other international visitors, students and young people stay longer and therefore spend more, making significant contributions to the UK economy.
The removal of the List of Travellers scheme will result in reduced numbers of school groups visiting the UK, which will have a financial impact on the economy. This will not just impact hotels, hostels and attractions, but all the other shops, attractions, restaurants, etc where they spend their money.
Secondly, the changes to the UK immigration system will likely influence a knock-on change to EU immigration and many UK schools will experience the same problems as those in the EU intending to travel to the UK. UK schools planning a trip to the EU may also need passports to travel, and non-British and non-EU students may also need visas to enter the EU.
The impact of these regulation changes means that many children and young people resident in the UK may be excluded from these trips, and some schools may not be able to travel at all.
Why is this important?
Travel, particularly as part of a school trip, is widely recognised as being incredibly valuable and beneficial to children and young people’s development.
It exposes and immerses them in different cultures and languages, it informs their understanding of the world, of history, and builds empathy with other people’s way of life.
For many young people, travel is not an option outside of a school trip. School trips are therefore an affordable, engaging, once in a lifetime educational travel opportunity which can influence their educational development.
Youth travel helps:
· Foster intercultural understanding and reduce prejudices,
· Forge life-long connections with other countries,
· Increase the tolerance for people, cultures and different ways of living and thinking,
· Help the acquisition of language skills in the internationally most important language.
But how many will this really affect?
In 2019 at least 7,000 groups made up of 250,000 students visited the UK from Germany alone, generating around 1.5 million overnight stays in hotels and host-families. As the UK has long been a primary destination for school-parties from all over the EU, there are many more groups from different nations seeking to experience the British way of life.
Additionally, every year more than 500,000 students visit the UK with the primary objective of learning English through local English courses. The contribution of the language student market to the UKs economy alone, is assumed to be as high as £1.4bn p.a...
It is estimated that up to 10% of all student visitors will now require visas to enter the UK, even when travelling with a school group. Due to the associated travel costs to the issuing authorities, and the costs of the visa itself, these students are likely not to be able to participate in the trip. This has a knock-on effect as most student groups operate a policy of only travelling if every member of the group can afford to travel. Therefore, many groups will no longer be able to consider the UK as a viable option for their trip.
Therefore, Theatre Workout is working with our partners at BETA (British Educational Travel Association) and supporting lobbying action from within the EU with comparable travel associations, and we ask you to support us in seeking to reduce these new barriers to student travel, leading to a reinstatement of the ‘list of travellers’ as well as allowing EU students to cross the border with an ID card.
We hope you are able to see the importance of this matter and we can count upon your support for this issue.