Barry O’Driscoll is the Regional Manager – India & South Asia for Education in Ireland. Enterprise Ireland manages the ‘Education in Ireland’ national brand under the authority of the Minister for Education and Skills. His work involves marketing and promoting Ireland’s offer to students from India, South Asia, Mexico and Colombia. Barry has a background in international business and languages and has a MBS in human resource management from Dublin City University. He has over ten years’ experience working with organizations in the areas of training and education as well as international business development.
Studying abroad can be one of the most enriching experiences for a student- the opportunity to live in a different country and gain a new perspective on culture, a high standard of education, global skills, to acquire a willingness to learn and grow professionally.
With several well-liked higher education hubs for international students like USA, UK, Canada and Australia, where does Ireland stand? An island nation that may be lesser known than other options, but is larger than life and is fast emerging as a reliable and rewarding option for international students. Why so? Let’s take a closer look.
Located west of the UK on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland is quite literally the centre of the world on a map. Its geographical location means that it is a gateway between US/Canada and Europe.
Ireland is a wonderful mix of the old and the new: contemporary modern cities with an idyllic countryside, traditional universities alongside newer technological institutions, an old culture and a welcoming young population.
Ireland is ranked in the top 10 for education according to IMB World Competitiveness Ranking 2019. 30 higher education institutes (universities, colleges, institutes of technology and private institutions) offer a diverse range of over 5,000 degree options and globally-recognised qualifications. As per Times Higher Education, universities in Ireland rank amongst the top 5% world-wide.
Not only places to study, but the education, training and skills that students acquire from these programmes have international standards. Students can study extensively across areas like business, pharma, computer science, technology, engineering, law, literature, psychology and even opt for specialised courses like cyber-security, digital marketing, digital forensics, and data analytics. Undergraduate programmes in Ireland last 4 years while those pursuing a Masters typically study for 1 year. Students from over 160 countries come to Ireland every year, so a multicultural and diverse learning environment is also a surety here.
An education in Ireland is affordable for international students, with varying tuition fees depending on the programme of study and the institution. Additionally, there are a number of funding opportunities for students to tap into made available by the Government of Ireland as well as Irish higher education institutions that offer different scholarship amounts to a full tuition fee waiver.
Ireland is also consistently listed as one of the safest and friendliest countries in the world. It was ranked in the top 15 in the Global Peace Index 2019, and as the 12th most peaceful country. The Irish are some of the most hospitable people. International students can expect to be warmly welcomed into Ireland.
There are many great career opportunities in Ireland for international graduates. Many institutions offer internship opportunities that are a useful way to gain real experience at the workplace proving invaluable when applying for a job. The Irish Third Level Graduate Scheme offers non-EU students a two-year stay back option at Masters level and one year stay back for undergraduates.
With over 1,000 multinationals in situ, Ireland is an ideal hub for organisations to seek talented employees and actually ranks number 1 globally for attracting and retaining international talent. In fact, there were 380,000 non-Irish persons employed in Ireland in Q2 of 2019.
From tech giants like Facebook, Google, Intel and Apple, to fintech companies like Deloitte, KPMG and PWC, to pharmaceuticals like Pfizer, GE and Novartis – there is wide sector-wise representation here. Because of multinational companies securing their European headquarters or manufacturing facilities in the country, and armed with a highly skilled and well-educated workforce, Ireland has emerged as the Silicon Valley of Europe.
Despite challenges of the pandemic, Ireland has retained its status as a stable, competitive, secure and pro-business country, and is the only country in Europe whose economy is expected to grow by 7% this year. Thanks to a timely vaccination drive and concern for students’ learning experience, the Government of Ireland has put into place a back-to-campus phased plan which means that Ireland is accepting back its international students for the September 2021 intake, and students can expect their curriculum to include face-to-face teaching.
Ireland truly offers a great balance to students seeking a new adventure and opportunity in the current times. It combines a vibrant history, quality of life, unique experiences, and beautiful surroundings all in one country brimming with potential. International students can take advantage of everything Ireland has to offer, but also have the benefit of Europe at their doorstep. All of which makes Ireland an upcoming, preferred and fulfilling higher education hub for international students.