At the beginning of this month, Ministers O’Sullivan and Fitzgerald launched a major reform of student immigration and the international education sector. The move was made to clamp down on abuse of student immigration, support high quality education providers and protect international students.
“The reforms are necessary to protect the consumer and educational interests of genuine international students, to tackle abuse of the labour market and the immigration regime, and to safeguard the strong international reputation of high-quality Irish education providers.”
A final report from the task force established to help students affected by college closures was also published.
New rules will take effect from 1st January 2015 and are set out in the Policy Statement “Regulatory Reform of the International Education Sector and the Student Immigration Regime”.
This sets out three main areas being dealt with:
- A much more restrictive list of education programmes will be eligible for student immigration purposes. Only programmes which are accredited by Irish awarding bodies in the English language and higher education sectors will be permitted to recruit international students, with a few specific exceptions. Institutions will be required to have a track record of educational quality and immigration compliance.
- An enhanced inspection and compliance regime will be introduced to monitor educational quality and immigration compliance.
- Changes will be made to the operation of the work concession, which allows non-EEA students to work. The working year for the concession will be standardised to clamp down on abuse and to make the situation clearer for students and employers alike.
“Thousands of high-calibre students from around the world come to Ireland to study in our universities, institutes of technology, private colleges and English language schools. These students make a significant contribution to campuses and communities across the country. We cannot let our international reputation be damaged by low-quality provision or rogue operators. These reforms are crucial to ensuring that only those providers which can offer the highest standards can attract international students”.
– Minister O’Sullivan