In what circumstances can I get a refund of my fees?
Under Ireland's immigration regulations, all colleges recruiting non-EEA students are required to show their refunds policy on their website. Immigration service rules are very clear about students being entitled to a refund of fees from a college if they are unsuccessful in applying for a visa to come to Ireland to study.
It is important to check a college's refund policy before you consider signing up for a course with them and to save a copy for your records. In particular, you should check what deduction a college will make as an 'administration fee' from any refund. A deduction is permitted, provided that the amount is clearly stated in the policy.
Typically, a college policy will say that there can be no refund of fees once a course has begun, in any circumstances. Policies differ a lot between colleges for cancellation before a course begins. Some refund policies are quite fair, others are not and may be a reason to think carefully about booking with a college.
How is a college expected to make its refund policy available?
The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) says: "Colleges must have a clearly stated and understandable refunds policy available on the international student page of the college website. A refund policy must also be provided by colleges to students as part of their acceptance to study at a college."
What rules apply if my visa application is rejected and I cannot take up a course?
Students who supply proof of that they were refused a visa to come to Ireland (i.e. a letter from the Embassy of Ireland) are entitled have their fees refunded. A college's refunds policy must explain how it will deal with cases of visa refusal, including how long it will take to process the refund (INIS guidelines say that a maximum of 20 working days is permitted for courses on the ILEP visa list). A college may apply a deduction from the refund as an administrative fee provided this is stated in the policy.
The immigration service has tightened regulations on refunds following abuse, including a requirement that colleges keep student fees in a protected account until a visa decision has been made. This is a direct result of cases highlighted by ICOS. It is very important that students speak out about problems obtaining a refund to which they are entitled.
What can I do if I have problems?
INIS says that colleges that do not have a policy in place or who do not comply with the terms of their stated policy in the event of visa refusal may be suspended from the visa list.
If you have problems with a college connected to its refund policy, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
Please remember, we will need you to give us as much evidence as possible if we are to take up a case on your behalf.
Last updated: January 2016