The slump in school trips to the UK described in your article does not surprise me at all (‘Almost unsaleable’: slump in school trips to UK blamed on Brexit, 26 December). I’m an English teacher at a German secondary school, and in 2022 I have to take my A-level English class on a week-long trip. In the past 12 years I’ve always taken them to England. We spent a lot of money on those trips: four nights in a hotel, meals, theatre visits, guided tours, plus the money the students would spend on food and shopping. It was always possible to go to the UK because, it being a school trip, I could take all the students, even the ones with a non-European passport.
However, this has now changed. Some of our students have a non-European passport (we have students from Russia, Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia). These students would have to apply for a visa and pay the fees. Or stay at home. Neither is an option for our school. So, with a somewhat heavy heart, I booked a trip to Dublin.
The challenges posed by the post-Brexit regulations for educational trips from the EU to the UK, which have led to the collapse in bookings, are obviously of economic significance for this segment of the travel industry. However, the effects are much more far-reaching, as Morag Anderson suggests in your article.
As a former secondary school teacher, I organised yearly trips from Cologne to Canterbury, which encouraged students to use their language skills and to learn about British culture. The trips to the UK helped to compensate for the fact that exchanges between German and English schools were becoming more difficult to organise, as fewer UK students were learning German. Now students travel elsewhere – to Italy or Austria, for example.
At university level, the Erasmus programme has been cancelled post-Brexit, and its replacement, the Turing scheme – which in any case is not focused on European exchange – has been taken out of the competent hands of the British Council.
Boris Johnson often speaks of “our European friends”, but European friendship and understanding depend, among other things, on language competence and dialogue. Young people must be given this chance from an early age. Words alone are meaningless.