New rules to tackle 'rogue language schools'
Language colleges will now have to get special accreditation for courses and implement a system for safeguarding students' payments, under new reforms by the Government to clamp down on rogue schools.
A suite of tough measures has been introduced after 17 institutions closed their doors in the past year, leaving hundreds of foreign students out of pocket and facing possible deportation.
Included among the measures is the introduction of a more restrictive list of education programmes eligible for student immigration purposes.
Only programmes which are accredited by Irish awarding bodies, or those accredited by universities in the EU that meet quality assurance standards, will be allowed recruit international students.
Colleges will also have to operate with more transparency with new requirements for "clear declaration of ownership, shadow directors, physical infrastructure and teaching capacity".
Colleges will also have to operate a separate account facility for each student to better safeguard students' advance payments.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who has introduced the new rules with Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan, told the Irish Independent she was confident the measures would restore Ireland's "damaged international reputation".
"We've had many unscrupulous people involved who have abused the situation of students coming over," she said.
"We believe now these new initiatives will ensure the integrity of the industry."
The rules were welcomed by the Private College Network, a representative body for schools.
The group's chairperson David Russell said all language students "should receive a high-quality education that is accredited and recognised internationally".