The Irish Council for International Students has raised concerns about the closure of International House Galway after being contacted by students and recruitment agencies who have not been refunded or offered places at alternative schools, including Spain and Turkey.
Although it is believed that the majority of students who studied in Galway at the time of the closure have now been relocated, it appears that there are other students who have paid money to International House Galway and are awaiting a refund or relocation.
Irish immigration laws require non-EEA students to have student protection insurance, but there is no such requirement for EU students.
According to Lorcan O’Connor Lloyd, CEO of Marketing English in Ireland, some of the uninsured students have now been offered places at other schools in Galway at no extra cost.
Laura Harmon, chief executive of ICOS, said: “It is unimaginable to think that people have paid money to International House Galway, a renowned English language school in Ireland, and then for it to close and for some students to be offered no alternative.
“It is highly unethical and damages Ireland’s reputation as an international education destination.
“All students, regardless of their nationality, should have their course fees protected”
“All students, regardless of their nationality, should have their course fees protected from the moment they pay their fees. Ultimately, the onus should be on English language schools to guarantee student fees, not the other way around.’
ICOS also noted that the school advertised courses on social media for two weeks before the closure.
O’Connor Lloyd said the closure of the school was “reasonably clean” but when it came to student protection, EU students were a “gap that needed to be addressed”.
He advised all concerned students to contact MEI. International students can also contact ICOS for support.
Harmon called for “regular monitoring” of English language schools, including the introduction of a requirement to submit financial accounts to the watchdog.
“ICOS continues to call for the introduction of an International Education Mark in Ireland to ensure the quality of courses and providers,” she added.
International House has been contacted for comment.