More and more international students are choosing to study in Ireland, a country renowned for its educational offering and soon to be the only English-speaking member of the European Union. In a report released by the PIE Review Edition 22, enrolments rose to 23,127 in 2016-17 from 19,679 in the 2014-15 period, and international student figures have been steadily climbing up year after year.
Ireland, or more fondly referred to as the Emerald Isle because of its lush, green countryside, is following a growing trend across Europe of creating larger third level institutions by amalgamating existing ones. These institutions then combine their strengths and expertise and emerge as one formidable institution of higher learning. Early this year, one such institution – the Technological University Dublin – formally operated as Ireland’s first technological university formed out of a consortium of three technical institutes.
Miriam Ryan, head of international Education at THEA, advocacy and representative body for technological higher education in Ireland, emphasises the strengths of the technological field, “One thing that differentiates the sector is our strong connection to industry right across the country. Those close links with industry are hugely important and are really helping to make technological higher education institutions very attractive.”
TU Dublin is one of the partner institutions of EduCo International Group, a diversified, post-secondary education company with headquarters in Australia and 17 partner institutions in Ireland, Canada, United States and Australia. “EduCo’s partner institutions in Ireland are ready for growth,” says Jacob Kester, VP for EduCo Ireland. “We are now in the forefront of efforts to attract international students who can eventually become great assets to any business or organisation once they complete their studies.”
Exciting opportunities for students
Exciting opportunities await international students of EduCo’s institutions in Ireland – TU Dublin, Maynooth University, Dublin City University and IT Sligo – especially those in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. Ireland has become Europe’s fastest growing economy for five consecutive years. It also has the fastest-growing tech worker population in Europe, followed closely by the Netherlands and Germany. Ireland houses the European headquarters of big tech companies like Microsoft, Google and Twitter which have significantly contributed to the economy as well as employment.
Students of these institutions are being prepared to meet the challenges of an ever-changing global workplace, especially with industry tie-ups and internships while pursuing their studies.
Aside from improvements in quality standards, international students have been given increased opportunities in finding employment after graduation. Under the Irish government’s revised Third Level Graduate Program, eligible non-EEA graduates can opt to remain in Ireland for 12 to 24 months to seek employment. Graduates of bachelor’s degree programs can stay for 12 months while those who complete their master’s and doctoral degrees can stay for 24 months.
“Working in Ireland gives students and graduates the opportunity of seeing the inside of a European industrial setting of a business, factory or a research centre. That, combined with the quality of academic learning they gain here, is extremely beneficial for their long-term careers,” says Gerry O’Sullivan, Higher Education Authority’s head of international education.
While studying, international students can work for 20 hours a week during the school term and 40 hours on holiday breaks. Ireland also offers a very good return on a student’s investment (ROI) because of its affordable tuition fees compared with other study destinations.
O’Sullivan adds, “Ireland is in a better place in 2019 than it has been at any point in the past, and education is broadening our horizons to becoming a more tolerant society.” He also points out the benefits of Ireland being a member of the European Union, “I think our membership of the European Union means that we have the benefits of being a small country and being part of a very large economic, political, cultural area and that, in a way, is a proxy for quality.”
In a survey released by the Higher Education Authority’s Graduate Outcomes Class of 2017, two factors were highlighted in the students’ responses and preference for Ireland as a study destination: quality education and ample employment opportunities. The survey revealed that 62% of international graduates of higher education institutions were employed after graduating from an Irish university. Of the 11% of graduates who chose to pursue further studies, more than half or 57% are doing so in Ireland.