Displaced language students to get 70% discount

Ministers announce relief plan for hundreds of students affected by school closures

Students displaced after a number of private language schools closed have been offered new places at a discount of up to 70 per cent.

Students displaced after a number of private language schools closed have been offered new places at a discount of up to 70 per cent.

Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 18:39

International students affected by the recent closure of several private colleges are to be offered alternative courses in approved English language schools at a heavily discounted rate.

The courses will be offered through Marketing English in Ireland (MEI), the industry body for approved English Language Schools, at a cost of €60 per week which represents a discount of approximately 70 per cent.

The arrangement was announced by Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald following recommendations from an inter-departmental task force set up to deal with the crisis.

A new website www.studenttaskforce.ie has also been launched to assist the estimated 2,000 students affected by the closures.

The Irish Council for International Students said it welcomed the initiative, even though “for many students the idea of paying again for something for which they have paid already seems unjust”.

The council’s director Sheila Power, a member of the task force, said: “While this website is a positive start, there is much work still to be done to turn it into a comprehensive resource which will address the many issues which displaced students are uncertain about.

“The fundamental rights of students to learner protection will need further discussion,” she added.

The MEI colleges have been happy to offer the discounted rates in part because competition from cut-price operators had left them running below capacity. However, the colleges are now seeking a beefed-up regulatory regime to avoid a repeat of the recent turmoil in the sector.

Five language schools have closed in recent weeks, four in Dublin – Kavanagh College, Eden College, Irish Business School and Millennium College – and the Allied Irish College on South Mall in Cork.

Applications for the new courses for the affected students can be made from next Monday, June 23rd.

The new website, developed by the task force, provides information for students on issues relating to their immigration status and details of the alternative courses available for those students who wish to continue their studies.

Mr Quinn said: “I would like particularly to acknowledge the constructive role played by high -quality private sector institutions on the task force. This has allowed us to put in place a very reasonable option for affected English Language students who wish to continue their studies in Ireland.”

Ms Fitzgerald said: “ This response from the high-quality English language sector demonstrates the shared concerns of all those participating on the task force and the commitment to produce a tangible and practical solution.”

Further information will be added to the website as it becomes available, the Ministers said.

The task force is continuing its work and expects to present a final report to the two Ministers shortly.