Grafton College case exposes weakness in student protection
Commenting on the closure of Grafton College and RTE’s disclosure that at least 10 Mongolian students have lost substantial deposits pending visa decisions, Sheila Power, Director of the Irish Council for International Students, said “It is unacceptable that Grafton College owner, Mr Rehman, had access to the students’ funds during the visa process. International students’ advance payments should be held in escrow accounts pending visa decisions.”
The advance fees of the Mongolian students and possibly others, on Mr Rehman’s own admission, have been spent. The current regulation requiring private providers to hold “a separate client visa account” is clearly inadequate. “Escrow accounts were a possible solution,” said Ms Power, “and should be a requirement if international students are to be reassured about Ireland as a safe place to study.” In escrow arrangements, funds are held in a secure third party account and not released until a service is delivered.
Ms Power meanwhile welcomed MEI’s assurances that all students currently enrolled in Grafton College, and those with permission to travel to commence courses in the New Year, would be offered alternative programmes in MEI member colleges. The students who will lose out are those who had paid in advance and whose visas have been refused.
For further information contact:
Irish Council for International Students
Tel: (01) 660 5233