Nearly 150 overseas students and 10 staff have been affected by the closure of a Limerick language school which lost its accreditation following an inspection by immigration authorities.
The Unite union, which represents English teachers, said LanLearn staff had been left without pay, as it expressed concern over students left “stranded” by the closure.
Lanlearn chief executive Yan Diao did not respond to questions from the media on Thursday.
A Brazilian student affected by the closure said Irish weather she recently paid €1,400 for a six-month course, but could not contact anyone at the school for a refund.
The Department of Justice confirmed that record-keeping, education and employment irregularities were found during an inspection in January. All school-related programs were removed from the ministry’s list of approved programs in February.
A department spokesperson said the school has comprehensive learner protection arrangements in place. This should, in theory, allow students to take their courses at other language schools.
He said students who are on programs or who have paid their fees and have previously traveled to Ireland will be given immigration clearance for the purpose of teaching the relevant programs.
Unite regional organizer Roy Hassey said the case highlights the need for stricter regulation in the sector to protect the interests of teachers and students, as well as Ireland’s reputation as a as an English teaching center.
“Unite was contacted earlier this week by teachers who not only have not been paid since February, but are also trying to help overseas students who have been denied accommodation due to non-payment of school fees. school by school,” he said.
The union is due to meet with teachers next week to explore the options available to them in a bid to secure the salaries owed to them.
“Over the past two years, Unite has highlighted the lack of proper regulation in this burgeoning sector, and this week teachers and students have once again paid the price for the government’s hands-off approach,” said- he declared.
He said tougher legislation was needed to ensure employment standards were protected, as well as education standards.