EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn has hit out at the scandal surrounding English language colleges, calling it “very bad” for Ireland’s reputation.
The minister’s comments come in the wake of the ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice into some schools and colleges for international students.
The probe concerns allegations of falsified attendance records.
Institutions including Eden College and the Irish Business School, both on Burgh Quay, and the Business and Computer Training (BCT) institute at Parnell Square West, are among those being investigated.
Eden and the IBS have both closed down while BCT has had its ability to issue immigration documents suspended.
The closures and suspensions have left hundreds of international students in limbo, with concerns over their visa and working status in Ireland.
“First of all, I have every sympathy for the people who have lost out,” said Mr Quinn on RTE radio yesterday.
“There have been instances in the past of institutions that were manifesting themselves as schools, when in fact they were really providing cover for people who wanted to enter into the Irish labour market.
“There has been a clampdown to a large extent in relation to those, but we haven’t got every one of them”.
Speaking about the closure of Eden, he said that the private sector was not regulated to the extent that the public sector is.
“The incidents in this particular case where the school went, simply shut down overnight, unfortunately it’s in the private sector,” the minister said.
“We don’t regulate that to the same extent that we do the public sector.
“But I am looking at it to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
“It’s very bad for the Irish reputation”.
A follow up statement from the Department of Education said that it was working on measures to significantly strengthen the quality framework for international education.
It said this was “to ensure the continued good reputation of Ireland as a destination for international students”.
The immigration service has had a series of discussions within the education sector to explore other course options for those affected and who want to continue their education.