Tuesday 21 November 2017

Drive to bring more international students here

Education agent Emma Godsil Picture: Susan Jefferies
Education agent Emma Godsil Picture: Susan Jefferies
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Fee-paying schools are expected to enjoy a Brexit bounce, as well as benefit from a new drive to recruit international second-level students to Ireland.

Major financial corporations, such as banks and insurance companies, are turning their eyes to Dublin as an EU base in anticipation of the UK's departure from the EU.

Children's education is high on the list of priorities for executives who are being asked to relocate with their families, with school fees a typical part of the remuneration package.

"This is happening anyway, but a lot more is expected post-Brexit," said one source in the financial world who is already dealing with such queries.

Typically, HR personnel from the companies involved come to check out what's available, with a focus on the fee-paying sector.

Meanwhile, there is a growing international market in second-level students, similar to what happens at third-level, from families in central and south-east Asia who want an English-speaking education for their children.

While it is not uncommon for students from other countries to come to both fee-paying and non-fee-paying schools in Ireland for a term or one or two years, there is a step up in this activity.

Dublin-based consultancy Godsil Education, headed by the former principal of St Andrew's College Dublin Arthur Godsil, acts as a recruitment agent for international students.

Spokesperson Emma Godsil said Ireland was becoming a more attractive destination, especially after the Brexit decision. At international recruitment fairs, Ms Godsil presents figures showing that fees and boarding rates in Ireland are significantly cheaper than in the UK or US.

There is an increasing trend for such students to stay in family homes rather than boarding, with the agent acting as guardian and looking after the family's needs outside school.

Guardianship

Ms Godsil said they had registered with Aegis, the governing body for guardianship services in the UK, "as we plan to be the first accredited guardianship service in Ireland".

One school with a tradition of international students is Sutton Park, on Dublin's northside, which this year has replaced the traditional boarding model with a home-stay arrangement.

Principal Ronan Walsh said about 30 to 40 of their 320 students are international.

There is capacity in the sector to take more students but they will soon face new competition from a proposed international school in Leopardstown, south Dublin, in September 2018.

The brainchild of businessman Barry O'Callaghan, it will offer the international baccalaureate, but the Sutton Park principal said the Leaving Certificate was just as acceptable, and said he had students who entered prestigious universities, such as Princeton in the US, with it.

"We would see ourselves as an international school - an Irish school with an international dimension," added Mr Walsh.

Irish Independent

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