Fears St Albans’ foreign students may shun UK because of EU referendum

Ian Salkey, director of St Albans School of Languages, with letters of concern from foreign students

Ian Salkey, director of St Albans School of Languages, with letters of concern from foreign students following the Brexit - Credit: Debbie White

The boss of an inner city language school has been left “depressed and disappointed” by the Brexit vote.

Ian Salkey, director of St Albans School of Languages in Market Place, was asked by a student due to arrive from Czech Republic on July 11 whether it “was still OK to enter and stay in Britain with the identity card only”.

He said: “This to us is a bit scary – people think they can’t just come here any more without special documentation.

“I’m very sad, very disappointed and very depressed at the outcome of the EU referendum. We have about 300 students coming here, from within the EU, because we are a British Council accredited school for the teaching of English.”

Ian added: “On the plus side, we might just be able to look forward to a month or two of boosted student numbers due to the, no doubt, very temporary slide in the pound. However, I don’t think there’ll be a scramble to get here before we close the drawbridge, as I imagine that the visa requirements for EU nationals will be the same as those for Norwegians, Swiss and Icelanders – in other words, ‘just show your passport at Heathrow’.”

Current pupils have voiced their concern in the wake of the historic vote to leave the bloc, with one saying, “I think it is one of the biggest mistakes that the UK has made. It’ll be bad for this economy and the European economy for two or three years. I’m quite disappointed because the UK has broken its international cooperation – although the EU isn’t perfect, it has good things for all of us.

“For me, and my English family, it will be more difficult to travel to visit each other.”

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Another student said: “It makes me feel shocked because it’s a really big thing that will change Europe.”

One admitted, “I feel confused because there are going to be new rules and more restrictions.”

The Herts Advertiser was told by another pupil: “My impression is that British people are not ready to leave for real. There seems to be disappointment and a lot of anger because of the politicians, who have not been very honest.

“I’m from France and, in St Albans, I have been made to feel welcome. But in France, the French look at the British as being a bit crazy – they can’t believe this is all real, as they think it’s about revenge.”

Ian said: “St Albans is a positive, foreign-friendly town, but people overseas are not aware that local residents voted differently, to stay in the EU.

“People are really showing they have the ‘Brexit blues’ and everyone seems subdued. It’s depressing that some of those who voted to leave feel they have been given a licence to hate or abuse people from other countries.”