The BBC headline of several days back spelt it out in no uncertain terms - "Tougher rules have been brought in to stop people abusing the student visa system to remain illegally in the UK." And although the Home Office has denied that the changes will lead to tens of thousands of potential EFL students being refused visas, the truth is that many foreign students of English will find it very difficult come here for a dose of Tefl madness.
The plain truth is, of course, that our politicians have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, shot themselves in the foot, cut off their nose to ... etc., etc. - choose your very own suitable yawning cliche, if you please. If what I understand is correct, the Tefl trade in the UK will never be the same again - which could be no bad thing, for sure.
So let's have a butcher's at the facts, shall we? The following paragraphs in italics have been taken from the BBC website article in question, and I've added my comments underneath.
• Successful applicants from outside the EU will have to speak English to a level only just below GCSE standard, rather than beginner level as at present.
What a load of complete cock! If anything serves to prove that the government has not conferred with anybody involved in the nation's Tefl Trade over this move, then this is it, for they make the elementary mistake of confusing native-speaker exams with those designed exclusively for foreigners. I mean, have you ever heard of an EFL student with a GCSE in English? Clearly the UK government have never heard of the Cambridge KET or PET exams.
Even worse - just what do they mean by the phrase"speak English to GCSE standard"? Is there an oral exam in GCSE English? Where are the criteria for judging Sharon and Kevin's miserable attempts to speak standard English? I'd love to see them!
• Students taking courses below degree level will be allowed to work for only 10 hours a week, instead of 20 as at present.
Why? What fuggin' difference does it make how many hours they work? I thought the idea was to keep out potential terrorists and other 'undesirables' - not just keep them in poverty. And presumably those who are in the UK to follow a degree course are less likely to ... just what? I'm puzzled...
• Additionally, visas for courses below degree level with a work placement will also be granted only if the institutions they attend are on a new register, the Highly Trusted Sponsors List.
Now that did make me laugh - the notion of a 'Highly Trusted' sponsor in EFL! I guess the Government has have finally realised that there are so many charlatans at work in Britain's tacky Tefl trade that they need to differentiate between them. So, presumably there will be Slightly Trusted Sponsors and Never-to-be Trusted ones too, like Paul Lowe and UKhelp4U!
The main threat to the industry seems to be the exclusion of all those foreigners who have a low level of spoken English. On the one hand, this could mean an end to those awful classes of non-speaking Chinkies and Japs; and what EFL teacher could possibly be sad to see the back of all that bollocks?
Yet on the other hand, who's going to fill their places? Will Britain's dynamic protectors of the domestic EFL industry (English UK, British Council) start making extra efforts to recruit students with better English - offering them hybrid courses of language and literature, cultural studies, sort of "English and golf/Premier League footy/24-hour drinking" stuff?
Even worse, what will these measures do to the ever-profitable summer school business, which typically recruits young kids from far and wide - Russia and the Middle East, to name but two. I would gladly stick my neck out here and say that NONE of the horrible well-heeled sprogs that I taught on summer schools ever had a high level of English. So will this side of the UK Tefl Trade just wither and die?
Well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I did e-mail English UK about their response to the government's magnificent proposals, but their silence has been, well, expected.
Of course, though, the biggest danger is this. If the UK Tefl industry does go under, what on Earth will I be able to take the piss out of in the years to come? Frankly, I'm terrified!