Monday 24 July 2017

Brexit to spark rise in number of students

With Malta the only other English-speaking country left in the EU after the UK’s departure, Ireland could become more popular as a destination for European students on the Erasmus programme. Stock Image: PA
With Malta the only other English-speaking country left in the EU after the UK’s departure, Ireland could become more popular as a destination for European students on the Erasmus programme. Stock Image: PA
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Ireland's education system is gearing up for the Brexit effect.

With Malta the only other English-speaking country left in the EU after the UK's departure, Ireland could become more popular as a destination for European students on the Erasmus programme.

While that would sit with the Government's strategy to boost foreign student numbers, the accommodation shortage presents challenges, it was warned yesterday.

The Government wants to boost international numbers by up to one third by 2020, and bring the annual value of the sector, which covers both third-level and English language students, up to €2.1bn.

The aim of the strategy is to increase foreign third-level student numbers from 33,118 in 2014/15 to 44,000 and, when English-language students are included, to bring the overall total to 176,000.

Higher Education Authority (HEA) chief executive Dr Graham Love told a meeting yesterday that post-Brexit Ireland may also face increasing demands to accommodate some of the 27,000 students on the EU Erasmus programme who currently go to the UK.

Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Tom Burke
Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Tom Burke

He warned that Ireland's drive to attract more students from abroad was threatened by the lack of accommodation in Dublin and other large urban centres.

Dr Love, who was speaking at a meeting organised by Irish-based think-tank Asia Matters, said developments in the Brexit process would be closely monitored by the HEA, and any actions that needed to be taken in the context of the international education strategy would be brought forward.

The Brexit effect is also a factor in plans for an 800-pupil international school in south Dublin, details of which were formally launched yesterday.

Dublin-based entrepreneur Barry O'Callaghan and international education provider Nord Anglia are opening Nord Anglia International School, for three to 18-year-olds, in refitted former Microsoft offices at South County Business Park, Leopardstown, in September 2018.

Junior Minister Eoghan Murphy (pictured) said it was a welcome addition to the education landscape and would significantly add to Ireland's capacity at a time of increasing demand for primary and second-level international education.

He said this was "something which I've experienced first-hand in terms of the impact of Brexit on my International Financial Services portfolio".

Much of the demand for the school, which will offer the International Baccalaureate curriculum, will come from executives of multinational companies seeking an EU base, more of whom are expected to relocate to Ireland post-Brexit.

Nord Anglia already operates 44 international schools around the world.

It has not announced its fees for Ireland, but they are expected to be of the order of €20,000 a year, well ahead of fees in the existing private-school sector in Dublin.

Mr O'Callaghan said he believed the partnership "could be the beginning of systemic educational innovation for Irish education".

Irish Independent

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