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New UCT English Language Centre set to boost local market

9 Nov 2015 - 13:45
ELC Students Learning English UCT International

Distinctive new English Language Centre launching this week will position Cape Town more favourably to take advantage of the booming global English language learning market

The University of Cape Town is opening a new English language school this week, a move that is expected to bring new impetus to the growing English language learning sector in Cape Town. 

The UCT English Language Centre (ELC), which will open its doors on 16 November, will be based in the Faculty of Humanities and will operate from Hiddingh Campus. It will offer first-rate English language tuition, while also providing a comprehensive student package that includes accommodation and visa assistance via the university’s International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO).

One of its chief goals, said Simon Harrison, principal and chief architect of the school, is to aid students in being more successful in their studies and more employable on the global market. It will also seek to position Cape Town as a top destination for English language learning.
The worldwide language learning market (all languages combined) generated a hefty $58.2 billion in 2011. When combined with revenues from language services such as localisation, interpretation, and translation, this figure jumps to $82.6 billion.

“English is a key requirement in today’s global working world. Some view English as a gateway into the best colleges or universities. For others, it is simply about acquiring a new set of language skills and exploring a different culture,” said Harrison. “Whatever their motivation, Cape Town offers a perfect location to study English and as Africa’s top university, UCT is excellently positioned to deliver a quality learning experience to global students.


Students from all over the African continent, as well as Latin America and Europe, are initially being targeted for the programme. 
“There are currently around 25 language schools [in Cape Town] operating in this space,” said Harrison. “But what differentiates the ELC is that firstly, it is underpinned by the UCT quality benchmark, secondly, students will be immersed in a multicultural university community that will expose them to an unrivalled mix of social, academic and tourist activities, and lastly, students will benefit from the university’s established support systems.


“The key focus will be on the teaching. But what will set the programme apart will be the combination of quality education, social support and the multicultural experience,” said Harrison.

Harrison added that the ELC would take advantage of the booming global market for English language learning and help make Cape Town an even more attractive destination for language students worldwide.


Currently, the number of international students in South Africa is on the rise. The most recent edition of Study South Africa, an annual publication of IEASA, revealed that the number of international students had “grown dramatically” since 1994, from 12,600 to 72,875 in 2012.
“This is a sector that we think has massive potential for growth and we think that our offering will help to build a highly credible presence for Cape Town and South Africa more broadly in this fast growing market,” he said.


According to the international Travel Student Planning Guide, there is a growing desire among young people to learn additional languages – particularly English – in order to boost their career prospects. This has resulted in more than two million language travel students in the world today, a figure expected to increase to 2.5 million by 2020. Some studies have shown that the ability to speak a foreign language can boost earnings by up to 15%.


Harrison said the students enrolled at the ELC would undoubtedly have an advantage when it came to their English-medium studies and work.
Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at UCT, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu, said that the school is one of the first initiatives from Humanities to offer a competitive and commercial course to compete on the open market. 


“Humanities is usually seen as softer side of the university, but this offering is anything but soft. We are offering professional and cutting edge general and business English learning options that are geared towards making students more employable internationally,” he said.
According to Harrison the Centre will initially focus its energies on the short-term international student market but plans to later expand its offering to include business students and existing second language UCT students.


To find out more about the English Language Centre, please visit  the websiteemail Mr Simon Harrison or phone him +27 21 650 4161 or +27 63 141 6456.

Article by: 

Libo Msengana-Bam
Communication, Marketing & Alumni Manager

UCT Faculty of Humanities