Media Release: Language students from Venezuela face halt to currency authorisations for study

Media Release – 14/6/14   Contact: Dave Moore – 087 0668559

Language students from Venezuela are reeling from the news that currency authorizations for English courses in the Republic of Ireland will no longer be permitted. The announcement from CENCOEX, the body that allows students to transfer their funds from Venezuela for course and living costs, indicates that the decision is based on a lack of trust in language schools in Ireland after the recent closure of five colleges, which the statement incorrectly describes as government ordered closures based on fraud charges (in each case, the colleges were closed by the owners rather than by the Irish authorities).

Raising the seriousness still further, the announcement advises students from the closed colleges that they must return home and may face criminal charges for abusing foreign exchange funds unless they can show they have attended classes – even though such records are believed to be missing or beyond recovery for several of the colleges.

ICOS spokesperson Dave Moore commented:

“The announcement from CENCOEX will be of concern for all Venezuelan students studying English in Ireland. Those affected by the college closures were already hit with problems drawing down their funds through Venezuela’s foreign exchange control system, now students at any English language school will be prevented from accessing their own money in this way. Unless they have an income in Ireland, it will be impossible for them to remain.”

“This is a blanket approach to English language schools and to English language students by the Venezuelan authorities that seems to be based on several misunderstandings. Students have expressed a hope that the Irish government will be able to give a correct account and work to resolve this matter. With over 2,700 Venezuelans in Ireland for English language programmes a lot is at stake for students and schools alike.”

“ICOS is extremely concerned at the suspicion being levelled at students registered with the five colleges that shut their doors, which it has to be emphasised were not closed by the Irish authorities. The owners have many questions to answer, but one thing is clear: basic records for these colleges are generally missing or unavailable. Asking former students to prove their attendance in these circumstances may well be a case of asking for the impossible. It would be wholly unjust if charges were pressed against students by the Venezuelan authorities on the basis of the deficiencies of others.”

ICOS will hold a meeting for affected students on Monday afternoon.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

The Irish Council for International Students (ICOS) is an independent organisation, founded in 1970, advocating for the rights of all international students in Ireland, whether studying in higher educati
on, further education, in a language school or other setting.

ICOS is currently maintaining the blog http://collegeclosures.icosirl.ie in addition to our main website www.icosirl.ie

Contrary to some reporting, neither Kavanagh College, Eden College, Irish Business School (IBS), Millennium College nor Allied Irish College were closed by the Irish authorities. In each case, the owners announced the closure of the operation and – students believe – simply walked away from their responsibilities.