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Student group criticises Shelbourne College for failing to repay fees

RTÉ has reported that the college owes international students €200,000.

THE IRISH COUNCIL for International Students (ICOS) has said that claims Shelbourne College owes tens of thousands of euro to students need to be “robustly addressed”.

RTÉ has reported that the Dublin college owes €200,000  to more than 50 students in India, Nepal, Vietnam, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Representatives for the students told RTÉ that they have been trying to get the money refunded since June.

Shelbourne College has disputed the €200,000 figure and said it has already reimbursed out-of-pocket students to the tune of €400,000. It blames the current situation on recent financial difficulties.

In a statment released today, ICOS said that the revelations give “a clear illustration of the scope for abuse by unscrupulous colleges under the current policy framework in which students must pay fees to colleges ahead of applying for a visa”.

The Irish student visa system obliges many non-EU citizens who wish to study here to pay fees to approved colleges before they apply for a visa. If their application is rejected, people can find it difficult to get their money refunded.

ICOS Director Sheila Power said that the news should be “a catalyst for much needed reform of current arrangements”.

Although vital advances are already underway to root out some of the underlying issues in the private college sector, student confidence in Ireland has clearly been shaken this year. More progress on quality and tougher enforcement will be key to rebuilding it.

Shelbourne College runs a range of courses, including business, tourism, media and English. TheJournal.ie has unsuccessfully tried to contact the college for comment.

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Órla Ryan

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