Contemporary modern cities with an unspoilt countryside, cityscapes steeped in history and a rich natural habitat, Ireland is not just a holiday destination. It is now attracting international students for the quality education it offers. Nationals from over 80 countries do not ­require a visa to study in the country.The graduate work visa also allows graduates to remain in Ireland after completing their studies to seek employment.
“A year ago, students would never have ­necessarily ­considered Ireland as a ­potential option for higher studies. But over time, we have increased our visibility in the market place and students are recognising Ireland as a study destination. The stay back option has attracted a lot of students. Once a student graduates, he/she has a grace period of a year which allows him/her to ­identify employment options in one’s ­chosen field,” says says James Mackrill, manager of Education in Ireland – India, China and Russia at Enterprise Ireland.
He further adds, “Also, Ireland is very cost effective as compared to other options in Europe and the US and UK. In addition, there is a range of scholarships ­available for Indian students. Courses that are predominantly for Indian ­students include ­technical ­courses, pharmaceutics, cloud computing and food sciences. Job prospects are mostly ­available in the IT sector which is the backbone of Ireland. There is a growing interest in humanities as well.”
Reiterating the same, Feilim McLaughlin, ambassador of Ireland to India says, “There has been an upsurge of students’ visa applications in the last one-and-a-half years. On an average, there has been an increase of 120%. At present, we have about 1,300 Indian students studying in Ireland and our aim is to reach 2,000 by the end of next year and 5,000 in the next five years. We are trying to position ourselves as an alternative to countries like UK, Canada, New Zealand and other English-speaking countries.”
On being asked as to why a ­student should choose Ireland, the ­ambassador says, “We offer quality ­education in a number of areas like IT, ­pharmaceuticals, applied ­sciences and business studies. All our universities are ranked in top 2% globally. Our two main ­business schools – Trinity College in Dublin and University of Dublin are ranked among the top 50 in the world. In specific disciplines like food ­sciences, ­nanotechnology and cloud ­computing, we are in the top 10 in the world. We not only aim to give an ­academic ­qualification but impart an academic ­qualification that is aligned to the needs of the industry.”
Known as the ‘island of saints and scholars’, the Republic of Ireland is home to some of the world's leading ­companies. With eight of the top 10 ­pharmaceutical companies, 15 of the top 25 in medical devices manufacturers and more than 50% of the world’s leading ­financial services firms, Ireland offers great employment opportunities for international students.
Despite a worldwide recession, Ireland continues to attract a huge amount of foreign direct investment (FDI). In fact, it is the second most attractive country globally for FDI - after Singapore.
Over 1,000 FDI giants in ICT, social media, pharmaceuticals and finance have made Ireland the hub of their European operations, with names such as Google, HP, Apple, IBM, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Genzyme. “With thousands of multinational companies based in Ireland, students have an excellent opportunity to give a great head start to their career,” says the ambassador.