Over 1,000 Saudi students to enter IT courses here
MORE than 1,000 Saudi students will enter Irish higher education over the next four years.
The institutes of technology in Athlone, Galway and Waterford yesterday signed an agreement with the Technical Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which will see the first batch registering this September at the start of four-year programmes of study.
Some 80 students each will attend the institutes in Waterford and Galway, with 110 due to attend Athlone.
The students will initially undertake one year of English language tuition, after which they will transfer to a variety of three-year degree courses (level seven).
Their degree studies will be in areas as varied as engineering, renewable energy, software, business, accounting, financial services and tourism studies. The students will be funded under the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme.
A similar intake of students will happen in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
The scholarship scheme also funds the wives of the Saudi students to attend the three institutes of technology, where they will attend English language classes in their first year.
There is provision in the agreement for the contract to be extended by a further four years if all parties are happy with progress achieved in the early stages.
Athlone institute president Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin said that the agreement was "the result of several years' relationship-building in the Middle East by the three institutes of technology.
"It is also an important milestone in signalling the quality of Irish higher education to an international audience and showcasing our growing reputation as an innovation island.
"This will enrich the educational experiences of all students in Athlone, Galway and Waterford and provide a global learning and research environment on each of our campuses."
The announcement comes days after serious doubts were cast on a reported deal involving Saudi students attending a school in a Citywest Institute of Education complex in Co Dublin where English language courses were due to be taught by teachers from the Co Dublin VEC.
The reported deal was denied by Saudi ministry deputy for scholarship, Dr Abdullah Al Mosa.