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Abstract

This article presents the findings of a case study which explored how English language competency may impact on the academic achievement of migrant students in higher education in Ireland. The research was conducted on a group of first year Social Studies students at an Institute of Technology. A qualitative approach was used as data was analysed from questionnaires completed by lecturers, and interviews with non-native speakers of English on the impact of language competency on their performance. The emerging issues in the context of language impacting on equality of opportunity for students from migrant backgrounds include firstly the higher likelihood of gaining access to institutes of technology rather than universities; secondly, English language deficits become particularly apparent in the area of academic writing and engagement does not always translate into successful outcomes in the examination process; thirdly, underperformance at third level will also impact on opportunities to pursue postgraduate studies and accessing the labour market. The main inequality identified in this article is one of outcomes rather than of opportunities.

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