Changes to visa policy and new ILEP - advice for non-English language students

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The Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) is a spreadsheet showing all of the courses which qualify for the issue of study visas for non-EEA students. The ILEP was launched on 2nd June 2015 and is updated periodically.


Key Points

The full ILEP list contains over 4,000 courses, mainly at degree level but also English language courses.

You should make sure that the specific course you are researching appears on list, not just the name of the college.

If you are considering courses with a private provider, you should satisfy yourself that the college has solid learner protection arrangements and is of high quality.

IMPORTANT: Whilst most higher education courses on the list are from quality providers, inclusion on the list is not currently a guarantee of quality and does not remove the need for further research.


Principles of the ILEP

The new list is focused on Higher Education programmes (Level 6 or above on Ireland's National Framework of Qualifications) i.e. programmes leading to a QQI award (formerly HETAC) or an award by a university or institute of technology. Programmes accredited by EU universities will initially be retained but will need to show comparable quality assurance standards and meet other requirements to be eligible for ongoing inclusion.

Several types of courses no longer appear on the visa list, including further education courses, including QQI further education courses (formerly FETAC), and professional and vocational qualifications (with the exception of ACCA accounting courses with Platinum providers).

Students already studying a course that has been removed from the visa list will be able to complete it. However, all non-EEA students buying new courses should take care to choose only programmes which appear on the ILEP. It may not be possible to obtain a refund from a college if it has sold a course which does not qualify. Issue of a visa/residence permission for any programme which is not on the new list will require a specific exemption from the immigration service prior to booking.


Keeping Safe

The new ILEP list is only a starting point. It does not mean that courses have received quality approval (Ireland is working toward introducing a quality mark scheme for colleges). You should thoroughly research any college you are thinking of studying in. If you are outside Ireland, do not rely on a good looking website, especially one that doesn’t show pictures of the college or its facilities. Look up the college address on Google Maps and find out as much as you can about it on websites which are not attached to the college.

Education in Ireland provides a list of many of Ireland’s major higher education providers but this is not completely up-to-date. You can also consult the list of ICOS member colleges, available here.


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