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Reforms of private colleges to protect non-EU students

Posted on May 27, 2015
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The Government has announced reforms aimed at preventing the abuse of non-EU students by private colleges operating here. The new measures include a requirement for colleges to hold fees paid in advance by students in separated ring-fenced accounts. Colleges will also be obliged to disclose fully the names of all directors, and all owners. The Government has said the changes are designed to improve protection for learners, and safeguard Ireland’s international reputation.

In just over one year, 17 private colleges have closed suddenly, in most cases leaving students owed considerable sums in fees paid. All of those colleges were approved by the Irish State to offer courses to non-EU students. The measures announced today aim at stopping what the Government has called a “disturbing level of immigration abuse”. Colleges will be obliged to put advance fees paid by students into separate protected accounts. Failure to do so will lead to derecognition. The Government is also concerned by what it says are attempts to conceal the true ownership of some colleges. It says complete disclosure of all owners and directors will now be mandatory. The new requirements will be phased in between next month and the start of next year. The Irish Council for International Students has welcomed the reforms but it has said everything possible must now be done to keep students safe until the new measures are fully in place.

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