herald

Thursday 19 October 2017

Fears grow over fate of asixth college

FEARS are growing that a sixth college which caters for international students may be about to close.

BCT college on Dublin's Parnell Square told students last week that it was taking a two week holiday, it has emerged.

However, it is understood that there are fears there is a very real possibility that the college will not reopen for classes.

BCT is one of a number of colleges that was suspended from a register operated by immigration authorities last April.

Like many other colleges in the country, it caters to international students who require visas to study here.

Since its suspension the college has continued to operate but it can not enrol new non EU-students and so it has lost its revenue stream.

Surprised

Students were surprised to be told last week that the college was taking a two week holiday.

In May this year, a letter from representatives of the college's around 200 international students called for clarity about their situation.

In an open letter, the students said that the felt that their voices were not being heard.

"We have all worked hard to come to Ireland to learn not only English, but also about Irish culture," it said.

"If BCT closes, it is not just the building that will close; it is also our future dreams and our present investments. Behind each student, there is also a worried family at home."

The college has said most of its remaining 500 students have completed their studies. It said between 50 to 60 students remain with courses to complete.

However,students who have completed their courses at BCT have complained that their immigration status is now in limbo.

And they say there are huge delays in getting visas renewed because their college is suspended.

They say they are worried about now becoming illegal through no fault of their own and of losing their jobs as a result.

A director at the college in May reassured students that the college was not going to close, and that everything was being done to rectify the situation.

The Irish Council for International Students has previously warned that the closure of the five English language schools reflects a poorly regulated private college sector.

Problems

It's Director Sheila Power said that the sudden cessation of the colleges had shone a light on problems that had been known for many years.

She said that they were not addressed by a quality mark system that was first discussed by the previous government.

Hundreds of students were affected earlier this year by the closure of Eden College, based on Dublin's Burgh Quay.

As many as 1,200 students, mainly non-nationals were enrolled at the college.

fdillon@herald.ie

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