The Irish Mail on Sunday

Thousands stand to lose fees from closed language schools

- By Niamh Griffin

THOUSANDS of internatio­nal language students face losing their fees due to a series of closures of language schools in recent weeks. Some have paid in advance but have not yet arrived here.

Dave Moore, of the Irish Council for Internatio­nal Students, said he was fielding calls from Brazil and China as online media carries the news of the closure of four language schools in Ireland, the latest being Millennium College. The schools, offering mainly English classes but also business and nursing programmes, have been closed for breaching visa regulation­s.

Mr Moore said: ‘There are so many people outside Ireland who have booked and paid for courses. We’ve been getting dozens of approaches from concerned individual­s and agents dealing with whole groups of students that they were expecting to bring to Ireland in the next while.’

Students would typically pre-pay for courses before travelling, and must provide evidence of savings to sustain them for the duration of their course.

Mr Moore is already dealing with 700 stranded students. Asked if the numbers could run to thousands, he said: ‘Yes, I wouldn’t think that is at all unrealisti­c.’

In 2012, internatio­nal students were estimated to be worth €900m to the Irish economy. But Mr Moore warned this income and hard-won reputation as a welcoming place could now be at risk.

He said: ‘I think damage has already begun to happen. I mean, we are talking about a cohort of students who are young and connected on social media. Something like this does not fail to ripple back to the home countries people are from.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland