Task force to 'protect' language students
A SPECIAL task force is being set up to protect genuine students affected by the spate of closures of private language colleges.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn announced the move after the sudden closure in recent weeks of five schools catering for students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) area.
The closures have snowballed after immigration authorities started a crackdown and announced that visas and residence permits would no longer be issued to students in a number of colleges because of fears about system abuses.
The closures have caused hardship for students, many of whom have lost thousands of euro and who are uncertain about their immigration status and education prospects.
Students from regions such as South America and Asia are able to get a visa to come to Ireland on the basis that they attend an approved educational programme.
The area has been largely unregulated and Mr Quinn has admitted some schools were abusing the system and were effectively a front to provide access to the Irish jobs market.
Mr Quinn's move came as students from Millennium College Dublin protested outside the offices of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) and the Department of Education.
The task force will meet tomorrow for the first time and is expected to compete its work within weeks.
The Department of Education and Department of Justice are working on producing a 'quality mark' and code of practice for the international education sector.