College spends £340k on foreign nationals’ English

The Southern Regional College Lurgan Campus.
The Southern Regional College Lurgan Campus.

The Southern Regional College which has a campus in Lurgan has spent almost £340,000 on more than 740 foreign national students taking additional English language lessons, it’s been revealed.

Figures reveal there were 743 foreign students at the Southern Regional College, funded to the tune of £336,210.38.

UKIPs David McNarry asked the Minister for Employment and Learning how many foreign national students in each Regional College are taking additional English language lessons; and what additional costs are incurred by each college as a result.

The Southern Regional College had the most pupils outside Belfast and spent the most on English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

The department said: “During 2012/13, the most recent year for which figures are available, there were 3,207 individuals studying English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses at further education colleges. However, of the 3,207 figure, 2,753 individuals were funded through the further education funding formula, which provided colleges with approximately £2m to support the delivery of ESOL courses. In addition, colleges also have their own fees policies, and can charge students a fee for ESOL provision, depending on the level and duration of the course. Colleges are funded by the Department to deliver ESOL provision in recognition of the benefits that ESOL provision brings to individuals, the economy and society.”

Belfast Metropolitan College had 852 students with funding of £1,034,704.47. South West College had 570 students with funding of £270,750.25. Northern Regional College had 348 students with funding of £169,548.60. South Eastern Regional College had 187 students with funding of £173,779.29. While North West Regional College had the least number of students - 53 and funding of £18,900.31.

Mr McNarry also asked the Minister of Health and Social Services what annual budget each of the Health and Social Care Trusts set aside for translation and interpreter services for foreign nationals at GP practices. The Department said that following the regional Review of Language Interpreting and Translation Services in 2013 the funding of language interpreting services for patients requiring access to all health and social care services, including GP Practices, is provided by the HSCB. The HSCB has set aside a budget of £2.8m in 2014/15 to fund this service.