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Home2021 IssuesAugust 2021Students stranded in Ireland as agency makes off with their money

Students stranded in Ireland as agency makes off with their money

Gardai, the Irish police force, are investigating a potential fraud involving at least €250,000 of fees paid by English language students to a specialist language travel agency, according to the Irish press. The directors of the agency, which has been operating in Ireland for several years, appear to have left the country and are thought to be in Mexico.

Gardai in North Dublin are investigating the case and are reported to be liaising with Mexican authorities. In a statement, Gardai confirmed that they “are investigating a number of incidents of fraud that occurred in the Dublin area between March 2020 and June 2021”. No arrests have been made.

The students, most of whom have come to Ireland from Latin America, are concerned that they will lose their legal status, as under their visas they are only allowed to work if they attend a language school, but the schools have not received the fee money from the agency.

One student, a Bolivian woman, told website that she had already undertaken  English language courses. She paid the agency €2,500 to cover her fees and update her visa. When she contacted the school they had no record of her payment.

“For years, I saved and saved to be able to go here,” she told the website, “but now I have lost everything.”

The education spokesperson for the opposition party has written to the Minister asking that the victims be given visa extensions for free. No answer has so far been forthcoming.

Image courtesy of Alberto Sanchez from Pixabay
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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