How can I check which courses are eligible for a student visa?
The official list of visa-eligible courses for non-EEA students is known as the ILEP. If you require an immigration permission to study in Ireland, it is vital to check that your specific course and college is listed. In general, the ILEP is limited to English language courses and higher education programmes, not further education programmes or professional training (except for ACCA Platinum providers), but only by checking the listing can you be certain whether a course is included.
Are all courses on the ILEP visa list quality approved by the Irish Government?
No. The ILEP is list based on immigration checks, not quality assurance. The ILEP list issued on 23rd August 2016 is part of a process of reform and raising standards which is ongoing. ICOS has compiled guides to explain the new regulations and how to choose safely.
It is important to make sure you choose a quality course with secure learner protection for the fees paid.
What happens if my course is removed from the visa list?
The ILEP is periodically revised, with courses being added and removed. If you are already studying a programme which is removed from the list you *will* be allowed to complete it.
The Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) is a spreadsheet compiled by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). To access the ILEP you will need a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel or Libre Calc.
The current version is available at this link: ILEP list dated 23rd August 2016. The next full update is expected in late 2016 but some changes may be made before that date.
The ILEP lists over 4,000 courses in one big spreadsheet. In Column B they are classed as either English or Higher Education. Courses are organised by reference code, not alphabetically by college, so if you're looking to check a course at a particular college you'll need to do a search. Remember that the way a name is written on the list might not exactly match the name you know a school or college by (check for any abbreviation the college uses *and* the main words in the full name). Higher education courses are mainly at the start of the list and English language courses are mainly at the end. Remember that the ILEP is a list of *courses* eligible for visas. If a college is on the list but a particular course isn't then the course doesn't qualify.
Here are some important things that INIS say about the ILEP on their website:
The list is about immigration checks, not about quality, but there are basic requirements on learner protection, class size and teacher qualifications...
INIS - "The ILEP does not guarantee the quality of the institution but if a provider is listed on the ILEP in respect of courses they will have met certain criteria including the mandatory provision of learner protection in respect of enrolled non-EEA students. For the English language sector a maximum class size of 15 students applies to all ILEP listed providers and they must also have demonstrated that their teaching staff are properly qualified. As with any consumer purchase of goods or services students should assess what is on offer, the reputation of the institution and its facilities and be aware that the lowest price may not necessarily be the best deal."
There will be more checks on schools and schools that break the rules will be removed. All English language students must be registered for exams...
INIS - "For all institutions their listing on the ILEP is contingent on their ongoing compliance with immigration rules and continuing to meet the other conditions set down for listing on the ILEP. In the language sector, in particular, the new rules are considerably stricter than those that applied in the past and providers will be judged on their performance against these higher and more universal standards. This will include unannounced inspections, spot checks and other monitoring. Examinations will now be a compulsory element of the student programme and all students will be required to be registered for the examinations. Providers who breach the requirements or engage in immigration abuse are liable to be removed from the ILEP."
All immigration permissions for English language courses will now be for 8 months (first announced in May last year)...
INIS - "As set out in the Government Policy Statement in May 2015, the standard immigration permission available for the purposes of pursuing an English language programme on the ILEP will be 8 months (this is a reduction from the 12 month permissions previously issued). This change will take immediate effect (i.e. from 21 January 2016) in respect of all future English Language related immigration registrations (first time and renewals). Existing permissions will not be affected."
Last updated: August 2016