Dozens of foreign students who came to Ireland to learn English have told RTÉ news they are facing destitution, after the collapse of two English language colleges in recent weeks.

Eden and Irish Business School have not reimbursed the students, who paid up to €3,000 each for their courses.

Students have told RTÉ news that they cannot afford to pay for flights to go home.

Many are also worried about their immigration status because the visas they received were linked to the fact that they were studying here.

At least 1,600 foreign students, mostly young people, are affected.

Immigration authorities have told RTE News they are working with representatives of the students and that the students have nothing to fear regarding their status.

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, said it has provided students with time to assess their options and to see what can be done to facilitate transfer to alternative courses.

Several private colleges in Dublin have offered students places for free.

However, those colleges say the numbers of students effected are overwhelming.

Those colleges have expressed concern about the damage the closures will have done to Ireland's international reputation as a place to come and learn English and other skills.

INIS said it will continue to manage immigration issues arising from the closure of the colleges.

It has urged students affected whose immigration permission has recently expired or is due to expire to contact them immediately.

The Department of Education has also met student representatives. It said is has every sympathy for the students.

However, it said the colleges that closed were private businesses and had no learner protection.

The two colleges were not members of a body called Marketing English in Ireland.

Any college that is a member of this group offers students protection should it be forced to close.