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English Language “Visa Factories”

 

Fine Gael Senator Anthony Lawlor has said that more monitoring and stronger regulation is needed in the privately delivered English language sector.

 

Disingenuous schools are using the current student visa rules for non-EEA Nationals to setup unsustainable businesses.  The standard visa for pursuing an English language programme on the Interim list of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) is 8 months allowing students work up to 20hrs per week and  up to 40hrs during the summer months.

 

Senator Lawlor said “These schools advertise low-cost education.  They are not sufficiently funded and the outcome is schools closing and staff not getting paid. This approach also undermines genuine schools with long-term plans that are forced to try and compete.”

 

All institutions should be listed on the Interim list of Eligible Programmes (ILEP).  There listing is contingent on their ongoing compliance with immigration rules and continuing to meet the other conditions set down for listing on the ILEP.

 

The policy changes associated with the introduction of the ILEP in January 2016 introduced more consistent standards. However some schools are still operating using the aforementioned unsustainable business model.

 

Monitoring by the Dept. of Justice and Equality includes unannounced inspections, spot checks and other monitoring. Examinations are now a compulsory element of the student programme and all students are required to be registered for the examinations.

 

Senator Lawlor said “More compliance monitoring of this sector is needed by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Education.  Ireland’s reputation as a destination for English language education is at stake not to mention our third level university sector.”

 

“We cannot have a situation where students and staff are left in the cold by unscrupulous schools.  Genuine providers in the sector also need to be protected.”