Tuesday 27 September 2016

Department of Justice plans reforms to weed out 'rogue' language schools

Alan O'Keeffe

Published 13/05/2015 | 02:30

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

The Department of Justice has appealed to students and teachers working in the private international English language school sector to report bad practices, as it confirmed a reform of the sector was underway.

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"Ultimately the only solution to sorting out the problems in the language sector is an extensive reform programme," said a spokesman for the Department last night.

Reforms announced jointly by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Education and Science, who are working closely together, in September 2014 were delayed by a High Court ruling in January 2015.

Taking account of the High Court ruling, amendments to the reforms have now been finalised and will be brought to Government by Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Minister Jan O'Sullivan for approval very shortly, said the spokesman.

Further measures will increase protection for students as 'rogue' language schools are giving legitimate schools a bad name, according to the Department.

Closures of several private English language colleges in Dublin in recent months has highlighted the "wholly unacceptable manner" in which part of the sector is operating, he said.

"It is self-evident that, for some of the businesses in this sector, the primary service on sale is the facilitation of immigration.

"And educational courses are a means of delivering that.

"Many of the students and teachers unfortunately become innocent victims of these disreputable enterprises."

The Justice Department appealed to students and teachers working in the international English language sector to come to them if they believe a college is engaged in bad practice or financial difficulties.

"Whilst there are many genuine language schools operating entirely legitimately, the efforts of these schools and of the State in promoting and regulating a valuable sector of the economy is being severely undermined by a small number of rogue operators," said the official statement.

"These operators have shown scant regard for immigration rules and no regard for the welfare of genuine students," it stated.

The Department said genuine students can be reassured about their immigration status with existing immigration status of students to be honoured in full.

Irish Independent

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