Two national English language school associations in Ireland, Marketing English in Ireland (MEI) and the Independent Language Schools Group (ILSG), recently announced a merger.
The new association will function under the MEI name and consist of 65 MEI schools and 20+ ILSG schools, pending further strategic planning and branding activities. The merger is intended to improve the entire sector and provide Irish language schools with a unified, compelling voice within Ireland and abroad.
Colm O’Byrne, MEI Chair, and ATC Language Schools Director says,
“After a tumultuous ten months, our industry is at a crucial reset stage, but we will recover and strengthen for the future by collaboration. With the incorporation of ILSG’s several excellent schools, MEI will have a stronger voice both domestically and internationally.”
Merger alleviates roadblock in accreditation
The merger also fixes a structural problem that has been worrying the ELT sector in Ireland. The formation of ILSG in 2019 was due to a situation in which MEI had previously mandated that all language schools be certified under the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) framework by the ACELS (Accreditation and Coordination of English Language Services) scheme to qualify for membership.
However, for some time, ACELS has not approved new applicants, which implies that MEI is not able to accept new members. The rapid development (more than 20 language schools had joined in 2020) of the membership of ILSG underlies the issue.
In combination, MEI no longer requires schools to be authorized by ACELS and awaits the long-anticipated start of the ACELS new substitute International Education Mark (IEM) scheme. For years, the IEM has been in progress, and legislation is still being written to put it into force.
A stronger brand will help recruit students
Steven O’Dwyer, Co-Founder of Apollo Language Centre and Chair of ILSG, says the merger will strengthen the position of Ireland as a major ELT destination for international students:
“There are substantial advantages for the members, and agents who support Ireland will now see benefits of this merger as we enhance our position as a quality platform for their students in the international market.”