Changes in Regulation in the English language sector in Ireland, 25th May 2015

On the 25th of May 2015 the Irish Government announced the long awaited changes in regulation being introduced by the Departments of Justice and Education. The effect of these changes overall are to enhance the protections for students travelling from outside the EU to study in Ireland and also to ensure a more universal standard of operation amongst colleges in the sector.

The system up to the 2nd June 2015 operated on the basis of the existing Internationalisation Register. For those unfamiliar with the set-up, courses on the Register have been approved by the Irish Government for inclusion. These courses met the standards required by Government for English language and business colleges seeking visas for Non EU/EEA national students.

A summary of the changes in regulation introduced on the 25th of May 2015 is as follows:

  • The Internationalisation Register for English language courses will remain effective and intact until the 1st of October 2015. All students attending colleges whose English language courses are currently listed on the Internationalisation Register can attend Ireland and obtain a visa to see out that course of study at any time between now and the 1st of October 2015.
  • All non-English language courses have been removed from the Internationalisation Register, the change to take effect on the 2nd of June 2015. Students attending for non-English language courses will not be in a position to obtain a visa to see out their course study for this particular course as it stands. Business courses validated by overseas accreditation bodies (e.g. CTH. ATHE, ICM etc.) will no longer be eligible for visas for Non EU students.
  • The Internationalisation Register will finally cease for all courses from the 1st of October 2015 at which stage the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) will be introduced. This will be the list going forward and administered by the Irish Government pending the full roll out of the International Education Mark. The International Education Mark is expected to be implemented by the end of 2016.
  • All colleges seeking to transfer their English language courses from the Internationalisation Register to the ILEP must complete this process on or before the 1st of October 2015. Prior to this date they can continue to offer education courses and their students can attend and obtain visas for attendance on those courses.
  • All course providers must ensure that they now have adequate protection for enrolled learner arrangements in place. There are three options for protection mechanisms one of which is the insurance policy already held by members of the Private College Network.
  • Escrow arrangements are being introduced for all colleges who sell courses requiring payment in advance. Once implemented monies paid by students who have not yet landed in Ireland will be held in a separate account and protected until such time as that student arrives and obtains their visa to commence study. These arrangements will be in place by the end of the year.
  • All existing foreign accreditations for English language courses (e.g. Edexcel, Pearson, EDI etc.) will now continue to be validated by the Irish government up until the 1st of October 2015. Where necessary the foreign accrediting bodies must adapt to the changes introduced in course structure and oversight for the recognition of their accreditation after the 1st October 2015. If they do not their courses will no longer be recognised for the purposes of the issue of visas to Non EU students. These courses will remain available to students from the EU.
  • After the 1st of October 2015 the only List that will be operated by the Department of Justice in Ireland will be the Interim List of Eligible Programmes. Only colleges whose programmes have been added to the Interim List will be in a position to sell education courses to Non-EU nationals who require study visas. This will be the new standard going forward pending the full roll out of the International Education Mark.

The Progressive College Network is happy to deal with any queries from agents or students internationally about the new arrangements. Students and Agents are free to contact the Network itself any of the individual member colleges.