'I've lost €1,500' - 200 foreign students stage language school closures protest
HUNDREDS of foreign students who say they've been left out of pocket after their English colleges closed marched on the Dail yesterday.
The students chanted "more regulation for better education" as the 200-strong crowd paraded through the capital.
They assembled to protest against the recent closure of 14 private English language schools around the State.
Brazilian, Mexican, Venezuelan and Malaysian nationals marched on the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and the Garda National Immigration Bureau offices, before ending up at Leinster House.
The protest was organised by Ciara Lane, who taught at the Modern Education Centre (MEC) on Harcourt street up until its closure a few weeks ago. The school lost their Accreditation and Coordination of English Language Services (ACELS) last year.
"I have worked as an English language teacher all over the world and there is a poorly regulated industry everywhere. But Ireland is the worst," said Ms Lane (29).
International English Language students pictured during their protest march over the closure of English language schools in the last year
"We are marching today to bring this to the attention of the Government.
"It is no good inspecting things like attendance and class size. They need to look at the viability of a business as well."
Johan Garcia (28) from Venezuela says he showed up for class to find the doors were closed.
"I have been left in limbo now. I need another course to keep my visa, but I have lost €1,350. How will I pay for a new course?" he told the Herald.
Brazilian woman Aline Andrade (28) says she paid €1,500 for her course at another college - the Carlyle Institute on Grafton street - before it closed in March shortly before she was due to start her course.
She must now find another school to stay in the country.
"I work part time as a waitress ... it is going to take a lot of hours to save up €1,500 for another course. Even when I have the money, I have no guarantees that the same thing won't happen," she said.
MEC teacher Maire Wire from Offaly who hasnt been paid in a month during a match by Students & Teachers to QQI/ACELS (Quality & Qualifications Ireland)& GNIB (Garda National Immigration Bureau) in Dublin's City Centre.
An Education Department spokesperson said "the vast majority" of private English language colleges operate "to a high standard".
However, the spokesperson said closures highlight "concerning practices" in the sector including issues surrounding governance.
A proposed package of reforms to the student immigration system is to be brought to Government for its approval in the next two weeks.