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English-language classes

Sir, – Your report on new measures announced by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to help English-language students in Ireland will provide some welcome news for the many thousands of English-language students who have remained in Ireland during the Covid-19 crisis (News, May 26th). That the measures come with a requirement to re-enrol in online classes is concerning, however, as through our advocacy work, the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS) is aware of variations in quality, delivery, availability and frequency of online classes, with no quality-control measures in place at present.

In a recent survey by ICOS, only 13 per cent of English-language student respondents said that they were satisfied with the online classes they are being provided by their school, with complaints relating to the excessive numbers in attendance in classes, shorter classes, less frequent classes, poorly planned lessons, lack of interactivity, and students not being placed in the correct level.

Ireland has a very strong reputation for English-language education and is among the most popular destinations for these students in the world, bringing in close to €1 billion to our economy, as well as providing casual workers to fill the many lower-paid jobs. For some of these students, a journey through further education in Ireland awaits, and for others, they act as ambassadors for our country, augmenting our reputation on the international stage.

This strong reputation is at risk, however, if serious measures are not taken to ensure that the education these students receive is of the highest possible standard. ICOS is aware that other jurisdictions are taking the necessary steps to ensure the quality of online classes. It is imperative that Ireland follows suit, if it is to retain the strong reputation it has rightly earned. – Yours, etc,

SARAH LENNON,

Executive Director,

Irish Council

for International Students ,

Dublin 4.