Ireland has emerged as a magnet for international students, particularly those from India. The 2022-23 academic year saw a staggering 12% increase in international student enrolment in Ireland, with over 33,480 students from around the world studying at Irish institutions.
Among them, approximately 4,735 were from India, marking a 17.8% increase in Indian students studying in Ireland from 2021-22. This surge in popularity can be attributed to Ireland's exceptional education system, welcoming culture, and bountiful career prospects, making it an ideal destination for students seeking to broaden their horizons by studying abroad.
Studying in Ireland provides a high-quality education that doesn't break the bank, making it an irresistible choice for students seeking affordability. With many Irish institutions consistently ranking among the top 3% globally and offering over 5,000 diverse programmes, it's a prime destination for academic pursuits. The relatively affordable tuition fees further set Ireland apart from other popular study destinations, allowing students to access top-tier education without straining their finances.
Adding to the allure is Ireland's thriving tech sector, home to global giants like Google, Microsoft and TikTok, providing students with a unique opportunity to learn amid innovation and prepare for promising post-study job opportunities. The presence of the world's ten largest ICT companies in Dublin boosts employability prospects for graduates.
In conversations with two experts in the field of international education, Nilanjana Shihn, the regional manager, India and South Asia, supporting Trinity College Dublin, at MBEC, and Surabhi Joshi, the regional director, South Asia, at University College Dublin (UCD), we explore the compelling reasons behind Ireland's growing popularity among Indian students.
Shihn emphasises Ireland's remarkable economic transformation. She highlights that in the last eight years, Ireland has leapfrogged larger nations, including the U.S. and rich nation-states like Qatar, to become the second richest country in the world. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the per capita GDP of Ireland in 2023 is $106,998. Ireland offers Indian students a unique opportunity to be part of an economically robust environment.
Joshi further underlines that Ireland is currently one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe, with sectors such as information technology, finance, bioscience tourism and hospitality and pharmaceuticals forecasting exceptional growth in 2023. This growth promises a wealth of job opportunities and experience for international graduates.
Ireland has a long tradition of educational excellence, earning it the title "Land of Saints and Scholars". According to Shihn, the education system in Ireland ranks among the top 3% globally, with graduates highly sought after by employers around the world.
Beyond academic excellence, Joshi emphasises that international students benefit from access to a flourishing job market in Ireland and beyond. The UCD qualification holds high recognition, facilitating the establishment of valuable connections within one's field and fostering relationships with both Irish and international professionals.
Also, Irish universities are in the top 1% of research institutions worldwide. They house key strategic research facilities that offer international students the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research and development initiatives. This exposure to innovation is invaluable for those aspiring to enter the competitive global job market.
Joshi highlights the offerings at UCD, where a strong emphasis on IT and business programmes is coupled with practical, industry-relevant courses—many of which include internship opportunities. These programmes are designed to equip students with the skills and experience sought by employers. Notably, UCD maintains a consistently high graduate employability rate, especially in fields like technology and business.
Furthermore, Ireland is witnessing a surge in demand for professionals with expertise in artificial intelligence, a field that has experienced rapid growth in recent years.
Shihn further elaborates that the Irish economy's key sectors include information and communication technology, financial services, medical technology, and biopharmaceuticals. Ireland is home to over 1,200 leading global companies, offering students ample industry exposure and integration through projects, internships, and part-time job opportunities.
Apart from economic prospects and high-quality education, Ireland stands out for its welcoming and supportive environment for international students. Shihn points out one of the most compelling aspects of the "graduate scheme" or "post-study stay-back visa." This visa allows international students who have completed a bachelor's degree to remain in Ireland for one year to work or look for work, while post-graduates can stay for up to two years. This opportunity greatly encourages international students to explore their career options in Ireland.
Furthermore, Joshi highlights the extensive support systems in place for international students. Irish universities offer a wide range of services, including accommodation, English language support, counselling, health services, career guidance, and more.
At UCD they also offer various scholarships such as the 100% and 50% VV Giri Global Excellence Scholarship and financial aid options for international students, making studying costs more accessible.
The insights from experts like Shihn and Joshi, it's clear that Ireland's unique blend of economic strength, academic excellence, and support systems makes it an increasingly attractive option for those seeking a global education and a promising future.
The author is the Chief Experience Officer at ApplyBoard