Having lived one year in Ireland does not make me an expert on all things related to the country but from my observation and contact with people I could see why so many nationals from South America, Asia and Africa would be interested in studying English in Ireland.
A great bonus the country offers is the student visa / work permit, when students duly registered in a language school or college can apply for legal work of up to 20 hours a week. Of course that’s a great advantage over the United States, for example, where a student visa will not allow you to work.
Many students say they love Ireland and most have no regrets in their choice. One girl from Brazil even said she loved the weather believe it or not. Another student said he loves the greenness of Ireland.
Despite the high interest by students to work and other nationals to find an easy way to find a “regular job” while pretending to be students, the doors were left wide open for scammers to set up “language schools” that would consist of a room with 1 teacher (maybe) and have up to 600 students enrolled with 80% attendance ( many times the school resorted to the falsification of attendance records). The only thing they would provide was a student visa for a fee ranging from €600 to €2000.
As regarding students, there were two broad types:
a. Those who really wanted to study
b. Those who were just after a way to enter the country
I can’t believe there are students who have been studying English for 3 years… really?
Well, my piece of advice to those thinking of coming to study in Ireland
1. Make sure you have a contract with an agency (not only with the school), which will get you either a refund or a transfer to another school.
2. Contact former students. There was even a case that a student chose a particular school because a friend of his was working there and both student and worker were caught by surprise when the school shut down. Check Facebook groups, google about the school – use technology in your favor. There were even cases of students who did a SWOT analysis before choosing the school and still ended up frustrated or feeling cheated.
3. Remember price is a big thing but knowing your school won’t close during your course is even bigger.
4. The language school industry is still unprotected – since 2014 the Irish government has been heavy-handedly dealing with only-for profit schools, with many schools having been closed overnight leaving students hanging high and dry.
5. Students interested in studying English in Ireland should contact ICOS – Irish Council for International Students,which will provide reliable information of the school’s status. http://www.icosirl.ie/eng/student_information/english_language_schools.html
For further information check out this great podcast report on the student visa industry in Ireland http://nearfm.ie/podcast/?p=19510
Over the last three years, the English language Industry in Ireland has suffered many school closures, exposing the malpractice taking place in some schools and resulting in hundreds of international students losing large sums of money. This hour-long documentary, produced by Sarah-Jane Fortune and funded by The Mary Raftery Investigative Journalism Fund, explores the effects of the closures on students while discovering how the industry is regulated and assessing what the future holds for the industry in Ireland.