I propose to take Questions Nos. 691 and 721 to 723, inclusive, together.
The Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) was introduced in 2015 as part of a series of reforms to the student immigration system for international education. Non-EEA nationals wishing to study in Ireland are provided with immigration permission if they are enrolled on a programme listed on the ILEP. The Immigration Service of my Department is responsible for ensuring that these students are conforming to the conditions attached to their immigration permission while the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science is responsible for education policy in this area. Both Departments work very closely to ensure both aspects are considered in unison. Additions to the ILEP must be approved by the ILEP Committee, which is made up of members from my Department and from the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.
Providers listed on the ILEP must adhere to certain criteria and must have arrangements in place such as Learner Protection, refunds in the case of refused visas and clear policies and procedures for students.
For a foundation programme to be included on the ILEP, it must be one of the following qualifications:
- QQI Preparation for Undergraduate Programme, leading to NFQ Level 5 Special Purpose Award
- QQI Preparation for Postgraduate Programme, leading to NFQ Level 8 Special Purpose Award
- Equivalent awards that are included in the NFQ and validated by an Irish awarding body.
When the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) was established, as a special concession, a limited number of one-year foundation programmes, not captured within the scope of the ILEP, were considered an acceptable basis for student immigration permission and letters were issued to a small number of providers placed on this auxiliary list at that time.
Last December, providers were informed that the auxiliary list was being phased out and they were expected to make preparations in 2020 to apply to have foundation programmes listed in the ILEP.
The college referred to by the Deputy was recently granted an extension of four months on the auxiliary list until April 2021, subject to confirmation it applied for QQI validation for its Foundation programmes.