Education Minister Richard Bruton is expected to propose new legislation to regulate third-level and private international colleges.
Under the new legislation, Institutes of Technology would become designated awarding bodies. In addition, the proposed law will tackle so-called essay mills that write or provide academic papers for students.
International education mark
The new legislation would give Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) the power to provide an international education mark. This would cover private English language, business, and others colleges in Ireland. As a result, international students would know that an education provider is reputable.
Furthermore, the new legislation would create a Learner Protection Fund. These colleges would pay to set up an “academic bonding” system. Should a college cease offering courses, students enrolled at that institution would still be able to complete their courses.
The proposal is a response to college closures. A number of colleges providing language education for foreign students ceased trading in recent years. Hundreds of students were unable to complete their language education, despite having paid their fees. The Learner Protection Fund would prevent that happening in future.
The proposed international education mark would give QQI the power to check whether a college was able to provide courses before giving them approval. QQI would also be required and authorised to share information about these colleges with other State bodies in the regulation of the sector.