Student Recruitment policy


Between 1993 and 2013 ELC Bristol was always more of less full with around 190 students in the school. When we reached capacity, rather than grow the business, we streamlined the school by cutting down on the range of courses we offered. ELC Bristol now only runs one type of course – General English (21 hours per week) with the option of examination preparation (Cambridge and IELTS) and the possibility to choose an elective on 2 afternoons a week. Since 2013, the UK EFL market for adult individual students has been on the decline and most schools’ numbers are down. To maintain our position, in 2016 ELC Bristol decided to reduce the minimum age we accept from 18 to 16. This has helped us to offset the drop and maintain healthy numbers of around 175 individual students. During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, ELC, like every other UK language school, was forced to close for many months and we are now working to grow our student numbers once again back to previous levels, external factors permitting.

We recruit students primarily through Educational Tour Organisers (ETOs) and Educational Consultants (ECs) and around 85% of our students come via them. We prefer to limit the number of representatives we work with and ensure that those we do work with have visited the school, know us well and can give an accurate and true picture of the school to potential students.

Compared with other schools, we spend comparatively little time marketing the school overseas. We prefer to stay with our students, believing that happy students and word of mouth is the most effective method of marketing.

Most of the students who come to ELC Bristol come through personal recommendations either from the representatives themselves or from ex-students.

We do not sell direct to the market by attending student fairs or by internet recruitment. Historically, we have found that this simply does not work, as Bristol is not particularly well known overseas. This also affects the type of representative with whom we work. We work better with representatives who sell through their own brochure and website or through the ELC Bristol brochure rather than purely via an internet portal without really knowing the school well.

Student Profile

Age: Minimum age is 16. No maximum age but our target market is 16 – 30. Enquirers over 35 are reminded that the average age of the students in the school is 23. We do not accept students under 16, part-time students or offer other types of ESP course (English for Specific Purposes).

Levels: We do not accept beginners and elementary students can only start on main starting dates. The majority of our students are between intermediate and advanced level.

Occupations: We welcome students and individuals from all walks of life, provided they are motivated and happy to study with young adults. Enquirers who are clearly business people are reminded that we run General English courses and that the Business English elective is not specifically aimed at people who are already business executives and is available only to students who are already upper-intermediate and above.

Numbers: Target 90 (September – June), 180 in July/August

Nationality Mix

  • We aim to always have a good nationality mix in the school, with around 25 different countries represented.
  • We aim to recruit 20 – 25% of our students from Asia, 15 - 20% from the Middle East and around 55% from Europe and the Americas.
  • General preferred maximum quota per country is 15% (although this might reach 20% from Spain and Italy during the summer courses and 15% from Saudi Arabia during the academic year). The Netherlands: Limited to 10% as Dutch students tend to group in the higher level classes.
  • Switzerland is regarded as 3 countries since we receive Swiss-German, French and Italian-speaking students.
  • Language groups – we prefer to limit this to around 20%. We are not so concerned with German/Swiss-German as the spoken languages seem distinct. French and Swiss -French and Italian and Swiss-Italian is more of an issue as the language is very similar, although we never seem to reach 15%. We are careful to watch the number of Spanish and Spanish- speaking South Americans in the school but they seem different and often don't gather together too much, so we are prepared to accept up to 20% in total. Arabic speakers can reach 20%.

ETOs and ECs

  • 85% of our students come from ETOs and ECs. We are happy to work with new agents after going through a vetting procedure and taking out references. However, in certain countries we have a sufficient number of agents and are not actively looking for new ones (for example, Switzerland, Korea, Taiwan, Holland, Serbia, Latvia). We are also not looking to work with new agents in the Middle East as we prefer to work through Embassies and other government organisations which pre-select their students. We do not want to work with any agents or accept direct bookings from countries where there is a history of visa abuse.

Direct bookings

  • We always acknowledge enrolments within eight working hours. Generally, direct students enrol online through our website. Once we have accepted an enrolment, received a deposit and have all of the documents we need, we will process the booking and email an acceptance letter, certificate of registration (if they do not require a visa) and an invoice to the student. If the student needs to apply for a Short-Term Study Visa (STSV) then along with the acceptance letter and invoice, we will send the visa letter by email (we only post documents on request and refer to this in the acceptance letter). These documents are usually sent around two days after we have confirmed the booking. As per our terms and conditions, all fees should be paid in full no later than two weeks before the course start date. The accounts team monitor this and chase up where appropriate.

ETO and Educational Consultants’ bookings

  • When students enrol through an ETO or EC, the procedure is as above but the representative will hold the student’s deposit (unless otherwise specified in their agreement). The documents are emailed/posted on request to the representative unless otherwise stated.