Improved regulations for English language schools delayed

Almost 98,000 students from 80 countries studied English in Ireland last year

More than a dozen language schools have closed in the past year, including the Leinster College language school on Harcourt Street. Photograph: Dave Meehan

More than a dozen language schools have closed in the past year, including the Leinster College language school on Harcourt Street. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

The introduction of new regulations for English language schools, aimed at tightening up entry to the industry, has been delayed. New regulations were due to be in place on October 1st. No new date has been set for their introduction.

They were aimed at tightening up the process for assessing English language course providers so rogue language schools could not operate in Ireland.

More than a dozen language schools have closed in the past year, some leaving students stranded in Ireland having paid more than €1,000 for English classes. David O’Grady, chief executive of Marketing English in Ireland (MEI), an umbrella organisation for 54 English language schools in Ireland, has called for the introduction of the promised regulations as soon as possible.

He said schools had been told the introduction had been pushed back “indefinitely”.

“Nobody knows what to tell their agents now, plus it still allows the rogue operators to continue operating because the new regime hasn’t been implemented,” he said.

Mr O’Grady made his comments at the MEI’s 19th international workshop for agents, which began in Dublin on Monday. When the UK clamped down, a lot of the rogue schools moved here, he said.

“They move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction exploiting any kind of loopholes or weaknesses in their law structure . . . If we clean up our act here, they will move on.”

Last year, almost 98,000 students from 80 countries came to study English in Ireland at the MEI schools, contributing over €330 million to the economy, according to data released by the organisation. Some 80 per cent of students were from EU or EEA countries.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service had to return submitted applications to “a large number of providers” for further clarification and detail.

As a result, the service anticipated “a short delay” in the next phase of regulation.