Statement by the Department of Justice and Equality on Shelbourne College

12 January, 2015

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service has today been informed that Shelbourne College is seeking to enter voluntary liquidation. The college will now be immediately removed from the Internationalisation Register, which means that no immigration permission will be issued in respect of it.

INIS is aware of allegations that the college has failed to refund monies due to certain students whose visa applications were refused. While INIS cannot comment on specific allegations regarding refund of fees it is understood that some funds remain outstanding and the affected students should continue to pursue this issue with the college.

It should be noted that if a private business is allegedly involved in defrauding a person with whom it has dealings this is a matter for the application of criminal law and should be reported to An Garda Síochána for appropriate criminal and/or fraud investigation. A college taking money from students pending a visa application is fully aware that they have no entitlement to those funds until the student is confirmed as being allowed to come to Ireland as a student. This is standard practice across EU jurisdictions which are involved in international student business. Should the student's visa application be refused then the fees must be returned (less a reasonable small handling charge). Almost all colleges honour their commitments in this respect.

INIS has previously put Shelbourne College on notice requiring that confirmation be provided that students entitled to a refund had received that refund as required under the immigration rules and in accordance with the college's refund policy. INIS has pursued this matter with the management of the college since this issue came to its attention. INIS will be in further contact with the appropriate Garda Authorities in relation to this matter.

Arrangements for Shelbourne College students currently residing in Ireland will be available on the INIS (www.inis.gov.ie) and the Non-EEA Student Taskforce (www.studenttaskforce.ie) websites shortly. The intention is that these students will, where appropriate, be facilitated in finishing out their courses.

This regrettable situation with Shelbourne College further emphasises the necessity of the reforms to the international student immigration system which the Minister, in conjunction with her colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills, announced in September 2014. A wide range of measures have been designed to reform the international education sector, including the elimination of a large number of courses from eligibility for immigration permission. A higher quality industry provides some greater reassurance of the integrity of contractual engagement with prospective students.

ENDS