20th May 2016

Int’l Students on the Rise, Worth €1bn to Irish Economy

A recent Irish times article reports that the number of international students coming to Ireland has risen by more than 25 per cent since 2012. At the moment, they make up about 8.8 per cent of the overall student body; the aim is to increase that to 15 per cent by 2020.

Enterprise Ireland estimates that international students are worth more than €1 billion to the Irish economy, and it is hoping to lure in even more, with China, Brazil, India, the Middle East, the United States and southeast Asia among their key target markets.

Now, in 2016, the Irish higher education system and international students are inextricably intertwined, with international students getting high-quality educations and experience, and institutions working to build the international student base more and more into their long-term goals.

The fact of the matter is that Irish higher education institutions have become reliant on international students, but this is by design. Fees for non-EU postgraduate courses can be close to – or more than – €20,000 a year in some instances, while many of the private colleges, many of which are members of the Higher Education Colleges Association (HECA) have much lower fees while still delivering Quality and Qualification Ireland awards.

Sheila Power, director of the Irish Council for International Students, which acts as a voice and support centre for them, says Irish universities are attractive to international students and are seen as a friendly, safe, English-speaking, intellectually sophisticated country with significantly lower programme fees than the US or the UK.

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