Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (596)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

596. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science when the International Education Mark will be implemented; when his Department will publish details on the implementation process including the commencement date, details of the public consultation process and other actions that will need to be carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7104/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

The International Education Mark (IEM) is a key component of the Government’s policy for the English language education sector and is intended to provide a quality framework for the provision of education to international learners. The IEM will be administered by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the national agency with responsibility for external quality assurance and qualifications across the further, higher and adult education sectors.

Only providers that meet QQI’s quality assurance procedures and standards will be allowed to carry the IEM. Once fully implemented, the IEM will be linked to the student immigration system and therefore only providers authorised to use the IEM will be eligible to recruit international students.

The legislative provisions necessary to facilitate the introduction of the IEM are contained in the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Act 2019 . While this legislation is now in place, a considerable amount of preparatory work is required to facilitate the full implementation of the IEM.

To obtain the IEM, providers will have to demonstrate compliance with requirements on corporate fitness, quality assurance and the protection of enrolled learners, alongside key criteria and practices surrounding the recruitment and admission of international students, information provision, student welfare, cultural awareness and academic support provisions. In addition, providers will also be required to satisfy conditions relating to the recruitment, training and the cessation of employment of staff. These criteria, practices and conditions will be set out in an IEM Code of Practice which will be developed by QQI in consultation with relevant stakeholders.

My Department and QQI will prioritise the work to develop and implement the key precursor measures that are necessary to facilitate the introduction of the IEM including the development of specific Ministerial Regulations for corporate fitness assessments and the establishment of a new national scheme for the Protection of Enrolled Learners. While it is not possible at this stage to provide a definitive commencement date for the IEM, it is my Department’s intention that substantial progress will be made on advancing the IEM in 2021.

The rollout of the IEM will be an important element of Ireland’s response to the challenges of international student recruitment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for both the higher education and English language education sectors. The pandemic has reinforced the urgent need for more comprehensive regulation of the English language education sector based on a clear statutory basis. The introduction of the IEM will enable the State to take a larger and more active role in supporting and promoting the English language education sector overseas.