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Ireland: students relocated after college closure

Some 200 students have been affected by the sudden closure of an English language college in Ireland. 

International House Galway closed after going into liquidation. Photo: Unsplash.

Students are covered by mandatory insurance that was taken out when they booked their courses

International House Galway, which is part of the International House group of 150 schools, shut down on January 26 after going into liquidation. 

All of the students are covered by mandatory insurance that was taken out when they booked their courses and have now been relocated, according to Lorcan O’Connor Lloyd, general manager at Marketing English in Ireland

O’Connor Lloyd said the organisation had to “act quickly” to find new places for the students, but that the majority of students are starting classes at a new school today. Insurance payouts will also cover the new schools to hire more staff if needed to accommodate the extra students. 

“The closure of the International House in Galway is a cause for concern”

The Irish Council for International Students said it was “deeply concerned” about the sudden closure. 

“The closure of the International House in Galway is a cause for concern, particularly when the school was still advertising courses on their social media as late as two weeks ago,” said Laura Harmon, executive director of ICOS.  

O’Connor Lloyd told The PIE that the approximately 30 students due to start at IHG over the next few months are all covered by insurance and are now registered with new providers. 

ICOS called on the government to “urgently” implement the International Education Mark and “ensure that all measures are taken to safeguard international students’ investment in their education, including mandatory use of escrow accounts”. 

The long-awaited International Education Mark, a quality assurance scheme for English language schools and higher education providers, is due to be introduced by the Irish government in 2023, following several years of discussions. The IEM was created in part as a response to a series of language college closures in Ireland.

Under the new measures, the government is looking to introduce a bond that providers are obliged to pay into. This will insure students in case of closures, effectively replacing existing insurance schemes put in place by providers, but some language schools say it is still unclear how the proposed learner protection fund will work. 

“We don’t have details yet of how that sinking fund is going to be managed and how much it’s actually going to cost the individual providers,” said O’Connor Lloyd. “That would be very different to the model in place now where we have individual protection of each student.” 

It is also unclear whether the IEM will protect teachers in the event of closures. Staff from International House Galway have been invited to meet with other schools to discuss work opportunities, following the closure of the school. 

At the time of publication, IHWO had not responded to The PIE with comments.

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