International students face fees loss

Dozens of students who have not yet travelled to Ireland yet could be caught for fees paid to the latest international college to close.

The Carlyle Institute told students last Thursday it was closing “due to adverse trading conditions” and would not reopen this week.

Unlike many of the 12 colleges for international students to close in the past year, it is entering into a liquidation process with a meeting of creditors scheduled next Friday week.

The Irish Council of International Students (ICOS) hosted an information meeting yesterday, attended by about 300 people and due to be reconvened this afternoon. ICOS spokesman Dave Moore said he has been told 220 students were registered on Carlyle Institute classes up to last week.

“There are a further 100 or so who had paid up their fees but not yet begun the programme they had paid for, 35 to 40 of them outside Ireland,” he said.

The Grafton St college’s website said it is working with ICOS to support affected students, and members of the recently-established Private College Network have offered to take its students for no additional charge.

“It was a privilege to work with so many talented staff and students and it’s our sincerest hope that everybody can be accommodated in this process,” it said.

Some messages on an ICOS webpage about the closure appeared to be from students who paid fees and were already issued visas or had applied for them, but were uncertain of what they should do next.

Mr Moore said students have not been priority creditors in the cases of colleges that have gone into liquidation since last year, as they are usually unsecured creditors and fall behind staff and tax authorities when it comes to dividing the assets of a company.

“So students are usually not looking at the prospects of any payout, or else a very small amount at the end of a very long wait,” he said.

Although there had been a slowdown in recent months in the closure of international colleges, Mr Moore said he did not think they have ended. “Students and some staff have raised concerns about the health of other Dublin colleges, certainly there are still worries about what the future holds.”

Plans for new regulations in the international education sector announced by education and justice ministers Jan O’Sullivan and Frances Fitzgerald in September, included stronger oversight of compliance with student visa requirements. But a quality assurance process for colleges seeking to have their courses deemed eligible for immigration purposes has yet to be approved by Government.

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