|University of Limerick |
The Government today launched a new strategy aimed at increasing
international student numbers in higher education by 50% and in
English language schools by 25% by 2015. However, it is essential to
ensure that existing low standards and questionable business
practices are eliminated among some dodgy private business firms and
the bigger ones should not be allowed to suggest that they are
On the full implementation of the five
year blueprint - Investing in Global Relationships - the
international education sector will be worth €1.2 billion per year
to the Irish economy by 2015. It is currently worth an estimated
The Government also launched a new immigration regime for
international students - - reforming entry requirements but imposing
safeguards to prevent abuse of the system.
The strategy was launched today by the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen,
Tanaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, Mary Coughlan TD,
and Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Mr Dermot Ahern TD.
The Taoiseach said: "Our aim is for Ireland to be regarded as
a world-leading provider of international education. This strategy
and new student immigration regime sets out a shared vision for how
Ireland can compete to the highest international standards and
recruit talented students from overseas."
The Tanaiste said: "Ireland has a tremendous opportunity to
become a global leader in the provision of high-quality education to
the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, and decision-makers,
who will make a difference in their own countries and who will form
vital networks of influence for Ireland.
"An education in Ireland should be a transformational
experience that adds significant value to the career outcomes and
personal development of students. We offer the highest standards of
education but we must also offer a unique student experience so that
we can compete internationally for the top students.”
The Minister for Justice said: "Advanced non-EEA (European
Economic Area) graduates, alongside Irish and EU graduates, have the
potential to become entrepreneurs, high skills employees or
scientific researchers in key sectors of the economy of the future.
It is therefore important that we provide an opportunity for such
non-EEA graduates to progress within the immigration system after
their graduation and for those students to utilise their skills to
the benefit of the Irish economy."
The strategy sets out 10 'core' actions to improve
Ireland’s performance, including a partnership-based approach
between Government and the education sectors and a rejuvenated
national education brand which is being managed by Enterprise
The international education strategy and the new student
immigration rules were developed in tandem and are mutually
The High-Level Group which developed the new strategy comprises
senior representatives from the universities, institutes of
technology, private higher education colleges and English language
schools as well as from the relevant Government Departments and
State agencies. The Tánaiste thanked the members of the Group for
their contribution to the development of this new approach.
‘‘Ireland will become internationally recognised and ranked
as a world leader in the delivery of high-quality international education by
providing a unique experience and long-term value to students.’’
Slogans and aspirations come easy.
A report by Enterprise Ireland
last May claimed international students were generating almost €430m for the
Irish economy annually.
International Students in Higher Education in Ireland 2009-2010, found a
significant increase in the number of international students taking postgraduate
programmes, especially at PhD level. The survey has found that 23% of
international students in Ireland are studying at post-graduate levels. Of
these, 8% - or over 2,000 students - are taking PhDs. Post-graduate students are
mainly taking science subjects, although significant numbers are studying
humanities, engineering, computer science and medicine courses.
In 2010, it
was estimated that 25,781 international students from 159 countries are studying at
higher level in 51 colleges covered by the report. Over one-third of students
come from Europe while 17% come from the US - making it the most important
country of origin for international students in higher education.
After the US, the most
important countries of origin are China, France, Britain, Germany, Spain,
Malaysia, India and Canada.
Today's report says more than 14% of Irish students are enrolled
on higher education programmes outside the country, which is nearly five times
the EU average. Most of these students
are enrolled in Britain and Northern Ireland, followed by smaller numbers in the
US, Germany, France, and Australia.
|Finfacts commented in Dec 2009
in an article on job creation:
education exports do not even merit a separate category in service
exports' detail, while education is Australia"s third biggest export
earner and earns New Zealand 7% of its export earnings.
Irish Government has not viewed it as important and has damaged the
product by allowing private business concerns from significant
operations to small training course providers, to engage in misleading
promotion to attract foreign students directly or via overseas
A training course provider,
operating over a shop and charging fees of €5,000, can be listed with
the recognised universities, in Department of Education and Science
At a minimum, private colleges
should be required to state explicitly that they are not universities
and smaller operators providing services at exorbitant charges to
foreign students should be closed. The facility to work part-time 20
hours per week, promoted by an agent, can be the hook for an individual
from a poor country to pay fees at a multiple of typical country
earnings and collected from extended family, for what may not be an
In 2007, the Indian government
refused to allow an Irish education recruitment mission into the country following the collapse
in 2004 of a business called "Dundalk Business School."
Last August, I
was contacted by five Pakistani students who were having difficulty in
getting a refund of fees from an education business in Galway, after
their visa applications were rejected. They claimed that the Department
refused to contact the particular firm, on their behalf.
Also in August 2009, at
the McGill Summer School, Don Thornhill, chairman of the National
Competitiveness Council said: "Ireland
performs relatively poorly in terms of attracting overseas students and
is a net exporter of students. In 2006, foreign tertiary students
comprised 6.8% of the student population in Ireland which
compared poorly to other English-speaking countries such as the UK
(14.1%), Australia (17.8%) and New Zealand (15.5%). We have only one
higher education institution, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland,
which has a significant international footprint."
- -Michael Hennigan
The report says full-time international students account for approximately 12%
of the student population in the university sector and 5% in the Institute of Technology sector. No consistent figures are available
for the private higher education sector, but the Group understands
that in the larger private colleges the proportion is approximately 12%.
Report of the Interdepartmental Working Group on the Internationalisation of
Irish Education Services (2004)
recommended that an appropriate medium-term target would be 12-15% international students in higher education institutions.
The review group considered that an average national proportion of 15%
full-time international students remains a valid medium-term national target to be reached in the
period between now and 2020. This figure is in line with the position of many leading OECD
countries in this area and is significantly above the OECD average of approximately 6.8%.
While Ireland is a still a major destination for
English-language training, the number of English language students in Ireland has declined significantly in the past
number of years from approximately 120,000 in 2007 to 96,000 in 2009. Currency
fluctuations played a significant part in this decline, it is claimed.