Sunday 21 December 2014

O'Keeffe language school loses state accreditation

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

Published 25/02/2014 | 02:30

Batt O'Keefe,TD.,the Minister for Enterprise,Trade and Employment (right) and former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea,  pictured at Leinster House yesterday.Pic Tom Burke 13/1/11
Former Minister for Education Batt O'Keefe

AN English language school where former Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe is president and chairman of the board has lost its state accreditation.

The school, which is part of Eden College, on Burgh Quay, Dublin, failed in its appeal against the move by the Government's education standards body.

While it does not mean that the school has to close, the loss of state accreditation is a major blow.

The decision to withdraw recognition was taken by the Accreditation and Co-ordination of English Language Services (ACELS) committee of Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), which operates under the umbrella of the Department of Education.

A department spokesperson said that Eden College was found to be non-compliant with ACELS standards, but did not provide any details of the issues causing concern.

Earlier this month, Mr O'Keeffe told the Irish Independent that the college had put in a "very strong appeal" against the decision, taken in December,

However, an independent moderator upheld the original decision and withdrawal of recognition was effective from 11am yesterday.

The ACELS recognition committee comprises representatives of the Department of Education, the Department of Justice and Equality, Failte Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

Eden College has links to the UK-based Eden College International, which featured on BBC's Panorama programme showing fake candidates sitting tests in English and a multiple choice exam where the answers were read out.

Arising from Panorama revelations, the UK Home Office suspended Eden College International and another college, as well as English language tests run by a major firm. Eden College International strongly denied any prior knowledge of, or complicity, in the frauds.

The decision to withdraw recognition from Eden College Dublin predated that programme. Mr O'Keeffe said that while Eden College Dublin and Eden College International shared family ownership links, "there is absolutely no connection from an operational point of view".

An Eden College Dublin spokesperson said they currently had 400 English language students.

Eden College Dublin confirmed that it had no links to Eden School of English, Eden Quay, Dublin.

Irish Independent

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