Fifth English language school shuts as Quinn says more may go
A FIFTH English language college has closed in the space of six weeks and Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said another one or two were likely to follow suit.
Allied Irish College (AIC) in Cork has ceased trading only two months after it opened.
The closure came as Mr Quinn said the Government and education authorities were moving to tighten regulations in the sector, which caters primarily for international students who require visas.
The minister said the short-term aim was to create a special 'quality education mark', whereby foreign students could be assured about the private schools operating here.
However, he warned that Ireland could witness a small number of other English language schools ceasing operations over the coming weeks.
The Cork college is understood to be connected to Millennium College Dublin, which notified its foreign students last week that it had ceased trading with immediate effect. The two schools share at least two directors in common, one an Asian national and another from Eastern Europe.
Hundreds of foreign students have been hit by the five school closures, four in Dublin and the one in Cork.
Some students claim that they have lost up to €3,000 each for courses which were paid for in advance.
A number of students arrived for classes at AIC's South Mall premises in Cork yesterday, only to find the building locked and empty.
One South American student said she had paid €1,000 in fees.
"I do not know what to do now. I hope to find another course but I have lost my money. I just cannot afford to pay again," she said.
Several students had transferred to the Cork college from the Millennium school in Dublin.
It is understood the landlord of the South Mall premises was informed that AIC, which only began operations in Cork two months ago, was closing.
He was informed that the college was to cease trading from last Friday. The college closed despite the fact that a lease had been agreed until later this year.
The operator was a Bangladeshi national, Rezule Haque. All efforts to contact Mr Haque last night failed.
It is understood that fewer than 50 students had signed up for AIC courses over the past two months. Students who managed to contact Mr Haque said they were assured that all fees affected by the closure would be repaid.
Officials for Millennium College in Dublin said courses had finished their planned duration with no fees repayable.
Mr Quinn said that he and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald had updated the Cabinet on the situation yesterday.