Europe has long established itself as one of the premier study destinations for international students. Among the top countries chosen by students are the UK, Germany, and France (1), mainly because most of the world’s top universities are found here. Other European countries such as Sweden, Italy, Austria, Belgium, and Poland are also popular study destinations.
However, a small but powerful nation—the Republic of Ireland—is starting to take the spotlight. It may not be as popular as other European countries, but international students are increasingly shifting their focus on Ireland as their prime study destination in Europe.
- Ireland is a small yet great nation that offers lots of opportunities for international students.
- Ireland is becoming one of the top study destinations in the world.
- International students contribute significantly to Ireland’s economy.
- Students may stay in Ireland after graduating at the master’s level.
The Republic of Ireland is a country that can get overlooked as a study destination. This shouldn’t be the case however, as Ireland is a predominantly English-speaking nation, which makes it easier for international students to communicate and integrate locally. After the UK left the European Union (EU), Ireland became the top English-speaking member of the EU. (2)
To date, international students from 161 countries have come to Ireland to immerse and bring their study dreams to life.
Ireland is Home to World-Class Institutions
Ireland may not be a student’s first choice when it comes to European study destinations, but the country actually offers a high-quality education that meets the needs of students in different fields of study.
Thirty higher education institutions in Ireland offer more than 5,000 academic programs suited for international students. Based on the QS World University Rankings 2021, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and the National University of Ireland in Galway perform extremely well alongside other top institutions in Europe. (4)
Another thing that attracts international students to study in Ireland is the affordability and cost-effectiveness of its tuition fees. Financial aid is also available for students taking up postgraduate and undergraduate degree programs.
Contribution of International Students to Ireland’s Economy
As international students make Ireland’s education sector more robust and diverse, the country puts a lot of value and importance on them.
In 2019, it was reported that universities in the Republic of Ireland contribute €8.9 billion annually to its economy. This is generated from a combination of graduate earnings, research, and income derived from all international students studying in Irish universities. (6)
In 2017/2018, there were 16,701 non-Irish domiciled students attending Irish universities, of which 73 percent were international students. Thirty-five percent of the students were from Asia, 34 percent from the United States, and 21 percent hailed from other EU nations. They contribute to the Irish economy not just through tuition fees but other expenditures in the country as well. (7)
More Opportunities for International Students
As international students are slowly but surely choosing Ireland as another great study destination in Europe, it is great to know that the Irish government supports graduates to stay in the country to work.
The Irish Third Level Graduate Scheme is offered to international students seeking employment at the master’s level. (8) Students under this scheme can stay in Ireland for two years and work for top tech companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Slack, as well as pharmaceuticals and data analytics companies.
In line with this, the Irish Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has published a three-year strategy, with some of the key themes focused on developing a better framework for international education and research. (9)
Ireland has also responded well to the COVID-19 pandemic and expects to receive old and new international students back on campus. By September 2021, the forecast is for all adults to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, welcoming more students to study and start their lives in the country.
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