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News : Irish Economy Last Updated: Oct 2, 2015 - 2:13 AM

Irish Education: Overseas students and visa rackets; Private college numbers jump 22%
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
May 21, 2014 - 9:02 AM

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Irish Education: About a decade ago Finfacts highlighted how some of the private education services companies were using agents overseas to attract foreign students - -  mainly from South Asia -- to Ireland on the expectation that they would eventually be allowed stay permanently in the European Union, having used the part-time work visa during the college enrollment period where they could work a maximum 20 hours per week . The number of overseas students in private colleges jumped by 22% in 2011/2012.

One of the private colleges engaged a big name Dublin law firm to claim defamation.

This is a costly business for poor people as is all people trafficking, with extended family usually contributing to the bill for a relative to have a better life in Europe.

First the scam starts in for example India with agents working on behalf of the Irish companies, on the make, and the scam continues in Ireland with few able to get jobs where a work permit is issued.

Finfacts wrote in 2010:

...it is essential to ensure that existing low standards and questionable business practices are eliminated among some dodgy private business firms and the bigger ones should not be allowed to suggest that they are universities."

In 2007 the Indian government blocked an Irish education trade mission after hundreds of its citizens lost money following a 'business school' collapse in Ireland.

In recent weeks several language schools have closed and Ruairí Quinn , education minister, said on Tuesday that 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 background to the closure of a number of these schools is that they, as recognised schools, they were entitled to attract students from outside the European Economic Area to attend courses here, and consequently the students got visas to be in Ireland as a student and to have some work opportunities in relation to that,” he said.

“There is fairly clear evidence to suggest that has been abused by a minority of such schools, where in effect the school has been used as a front to provide access at a cost to the Irish labour market. We may very well have one or two other closures as well.”

No senior official in the Department of Education and Skills should be surprised with this news.

Departmental data [pdf] shows that overall numbers of international students registered in Irish higher education institutions in 2012 were comparatively stable at around 32,000: Universities saw their numbers growing  8%  but there was a fall in the Institutes of Technology (1%) and the numbers in private colleges  jumped 22%.

Finfacts 2007: The Irish Business of Education and Overseas Students

Finfacts 2010: Government launches 'strategy' to increase international student numbers in Ireland; Essential to police dodgy private education business firms

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