Katherine Donnelly: New frontiers are opening up in drive to lure foreign students
IN Mandarin Chinese they call them sea turtles: those who went abroad to study and have returned home. On a recent Friday night, in Shanghai's URBN hotel, about 100 of these sea turtles, returned Chinese alumni from Irish education institutions, joined celebrations for two of Ireland's most successful exports to China in recent years, higher education and food, with a visiting delegation from Ireland.
It was an opportunity to enjoy the craic, renew links and strengthen ties in a world that has become a global village, where a business decision taken in Shanghai could lengthen or shorten a dole queue in Ireland.
These 100 sea turtles are small but very valuable specks in the ocean of international students who leave their home country for their third- and fourth-level education. Two obvious attractions of Ireland are that it is English-speaking and in the EU.