Irish school closures affect overseas students

29 April, 2014

Dublin-based Eden College, a provider of vocational and English language programmes, has closed with immediate effect, meaning advice is now being offered to hundreds of international students needing to find alternative providers in Ireland.

The message on the Eden College website

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) has confirmed the closure, and the Eden College website carries a message saying, “The Board of Eden College regrets that Eden College Dublin has ceased trading with immediate effect.” As previously reported, Eden College lost recognition from the Irish accreditation body Acels at the end of last year.

INIS also confirmed that there is no immediate threat to the immigration status of the international students enrolled at Eden College. All current non-EEA students of the college are deemed to be on academic holiday until September 1, and are permitted to work up to 40 hours per week during this period.

Following discussions between English language school association Marketing English in Ireland (MEI), it has been agreed that non-EEA students at Eden College on courses previously recognised by Acels may be in a position to complete the balance of their programme at a MEI member school. Where the fees of the new school exceed those of Eden College, students may be able to claim a discount in respect of fees already paid, and will be required to produce evidence of payments.

Students wishing to transfer to an MEI school need to contact MEI directly by email, with details of their current course at Eden College, start dates and expected completion dates.

Eden College was a member of MEI last year, although membership was withdrawn from the college at the end of last year, following a vote by the MEI Board.

David O’Grady, CEO of MEI, told Study Travel Magazine that around 200 students were thought to have turned up at the college on the day it closed (Monday 28th April). There is not currently much detail on what courses the students were on, although it is believed there were 20-25 students from Saudi Arabia on the KASP scholarship on English language programmes, and around 20 were registered for English language exams to be taken later in the year.

Eden College students pursuing a Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC)-accredited programme are required to contact Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) directly in relation to their course of studies. Meanwhile, non-EEA students that were registered as pursing an Australian Institute of Business-accredited programme will not be issued with further immigration permission. “INIS understands that students can pursue these courses by distance with the Australian Institute of Business,” said INIS in a statement.

INIS has warned students that it has not agreed to any bilateral arrangements with Eden College regarding transfer of students, and has urged students not to pay any funds before contacting INIS.

Eden College was one of four institutions cited in a warning issued by INIS earlier this month, along with National Media College, Millennium College and Business & Computer Training Institute.

The statement from INIS said the issuing of visas and residence permits to non-EEA nationals looking to study at the four schools had been suspended. “This suspension is pending further inquiries into the allegations of irregularities and further action may follow,” it said.

Meanwhile, the recent closure of Kavanagh College, another Dublin-based language school, left around 60 international students out of pocket, according to reports in the local media.

Kavanagh College is reported to have closed suddenly and in an email notification to students blamed the “Cadivi situation” – a reference to the Venezuelan government body that approves payments to be made in foreign currencies. Cadivi is believed to have suspended applications for at least some schools in Ireland.

According to reports in the Herald newspaper, most of the students were not from Venezuela and had paid full fees upfront. Kavanagh College was not a member of an association, meaning there is no tuition protection scheme in place.

A Market Analysis feature on Ireland in the May issue of Study Travel Magazine shows that Ireland’s schools made significant inroads into the Venezuelan market in 2013, but in an interview for that feature, O’Grady warned, “In 2014 our Venezuelan business is being greatly damaged (and may yet even be terminated) by the unscrupulous behaviour of a few EFL operators in Ireland.”

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