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Ireland reforms student immigration legislation

As of 1 January 2015, a new set of rules will govern student immigration and the international education sector in Ireland. Under the new major Reform of the International Education Sector and the Student Immigration Regime announced by Minister Jan O’Sullivan and Minister Frances Fitzgerald at the beginning of September, four main novelties will be introduced:
  • a much more restrictive list of education programmes (Interim List of Eligible Programmes for Student Immigration Permission - ILEP) will be eligible for student immigration purposes; 
  • only programmes which are accredited by Irish awarding bodies in the English language and higher education sectors (through a new International Education Mark - IEM) will be permitted to recruit international students, with a few specific exceptions;
  • institutions will be required to have a track record of educational quality and immigration compliance with more stringent inspection processes put in place by INIS and the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB);
  • changes will be made to the operation of the work concession, which allows non-EEA students to work. The working year for the concession will be standardised allowing students to work only 40 hours a week during the months of May, June, July and August and from 15 December to 15 January, irrespective of providers, in line with the traditional academic year.

The goal of the new reform is therefore to offer further protection for international students by supporting quality providers and making it more difficult for low-quality colleges to operate. The reform has been issued in response to the scandal of the closure of a number of private sector colleges, after an investigation last April revealed that some schools had violated visa regulations by falsifying attendance records, impacting some 2 000 international students. In the aftermath of the college shutdowns, a report produced by a special Task Force noted that a number of low quality providers was continuing to abuse student immigration, thus the aim of the recent reform is to stop any of these residual practices. 


More information for providers and students: