Govt tightens rules on language schools issuing visas

The Government says it expects more English language colleges to close after it announced plans to tackle what it says is the continued abuse of student immigration by a number of providers.

The Government is clamping down on schools who issue visas for students to travel to Ireland, after several schools shut down earlier this summer.

From now on schools will only be allowed to issue visas if their courses have national recognition.

The schools will also be subject to more regular inspections, while students from at least six other schools are being reassigned to other colleges.

Under the new regime coming into force next January a more restrictive list of education programmes will be eligible for student immigration purposes and an enhanced inspection regime will be implemented.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan have also published a report into the closure of a number of private English language colleges earlier this year, with all affected students now given alternative places.

Minister Fitzgerald says the changes are to ensure Ireland has a top class immigration and international education system.

She said: "It's up to the colleges themselves to meet the standards, it's hard to predict at this point how many will be able to do that, but clearly they still have the opportunity to recruit Irish students and to recruit EU students.

"We will see how sustainable they are, but certainly there is an opportunity there for colleges to meet the criteria that we are putting in place and the standards."

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