Recent Closures of English Language Schools: Discussion (Continued)

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection Debate

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Charlie McConalogue: Information on Deputy Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Deputy Charlie McConalogue] I wish to comment on what Mr. Moore said and what we also heard from the Department. Mr. Francio referred to having checked the international register and the list of approved courses. The course must be approved on the register before the Department issues a visa for someone to study on it in this country. There are question marks over the existing regulation and how one would get on the register. In order for students to come to this country to study we must issue them with visas. There is an obligation on us to ensure that where we consent to allow students to come here on visas, there is an implicit belief that the course is valid, of quality and one for which the State is willing to issue a visa for someone to come to this country to study. Much work needs to be done to ensure that is the case because otherwise the system will be damaged.

Five colleges closed in quick succession when visas were withdrawn. There are 270 colleges overall. Could Mr. Moore outline how many students are involved in those colleges? Are most of the students in the 270 colleges English language students? How can we be sure that problems will not arise for colleges that are currently recruiting for upcoming language courses? More action must be taken to ensure colleges that are currently recruiting are not in danger of closing in three or four months' time. What can be done to ensure that assurances can be made to students?

Reference was made to the QQI, Quality and Qualifications Ireland, internationalisation register in terms of the regulation of the 270 colleges. What type of inspections are carried out currently in existing colleges? What is the role of the QQI in such inspections and in terms of the international register?

Chairman: Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy Before I go back to Mr. Moore for a response I will take the remaining questions and we will wrap up afterwards.

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell I thank Mr. Francio. I am sorry his experience was so bad. I hope the situation will be rectified in some way. Does Mr. Moore think the Government is doing enough to assist in the situation? It was announced that 70% of students would be redeployed. What does Mr. Moore believe must happen now?

Mr. Dave Moore: As an organisation we are very much about the voice of students. What they have clearly said is that after an extended wait to hear what resolution could be provided, the idea of paying again for what they have already paid for is unjust and is simply not an option, as Mr. Francio said, for a great many students. If the authorities hear what the students have to say I hope there would be further reflection on whether Ireland has played fair by the students affected.

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell I understand the international register but in one way it can be a red herring and the Government could be hiding behind it, because it is up to each state to regulate. International registers are one thing but it is up to a state to ensure all is well when people are being given visas. Responsibility comes with such a situation. In one way that is an overarching red herring. It is up to each country to regulate, ensure quality assurance and look after young students who go to language schools. The Government should not get off the hook.

Mr. Dave Moore: If I could just clarify that the internationalisation register is a specific-----

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell It is for language schools.

Mr. Dave Moore: It is a spreadsheet of courses that is purely produced within Ireland under the auspices of QQI. It is not an internationally-compiled document. It is an Irish-compiled document.

Chairman: Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy I am going to conclude the meeting. We will raise the issues that have been raised with us with the Department and we will follow up on them. We have gained enough information at the meeting to do that. I invite both witnesses to make a final remark if they wish and then I will conclude the item.

Mr. Dave Moore: Unfortunately, there is so much we could say because we are dealing with more than 1,000 students and there are so many issues arising. We appreciate that time is limited and we are pleased we had a hearing.

Senator Mary Moran: Information on Mary Moran Zoom on Mary Moran I am sorry, a Chathaoirligh-----

Chairman: Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy I do not wish to open up the discussion again.

Senator Mary Moran: Information on Mary Moran Zoom on Mary Moran I will not. I apologise but-----

Chairman: Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy I do not wish to take any more questions. We must move on.

Senator Mary Moran: Information on Mary Moran Zoom on Mary Moran Okay.

Chairman: Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy We will pursue the matter further. I am sorry about that. That brings that aspect of the meeting to a close. I urge members to remain as we are now going into private session. I again thank the witnesses.

The joint committee went into private session at 3.05 p.m. and adjourned at 3.40 p.m. until 1 p.m. on Wednesday, 25 June 2014.


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