Ireland’s economy and opportunities attract more international students
The fastest-growing economy in Europe
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Ireland has emerged with the fastest-growing economy in Europe. According to IBIS World, Irish GDP still grew at a nominal rate in 2020 despite the massive disruption to economic activity caused by COVID-19. A significant growth in GSP followed in 2021 where it doubled from 6.2% to 13.6%, making Ireland the fastest-growing economy in the EU.
A huge contributing factor to this is Brexit, which left Ireland as the only predominantly English-speaking country in the European Union (EU). This has successfully attracted over a thousand multinational companies, making it a vibrant job market. And in effect, this economic growth with increased opportunities has also made it an even more attractive destination for international students. Ireland was already positioned as a top choice for international students, the chain of events post-Brexit certainly added to the country’s popularity among young professionals all over the world.
First-rate education in the Emerald Isle
Ireland, also known as the Emerald Isle, is renowned around the globe for providing academic excellence with its world class education system and internationally recognised qualifications. Studying in Ireland is a great investment in life, as all Irish Universities are ranked in the top 3% of institutions worldwide with many research fields in the top 1% in the world, according to the Irish Universities Association (IUA).
The IUA adds that “There is a magnetic energy around the Irish Universities that draws students from all over the world. There are currently over 32,000 international students studying in Ireland availing of the extensive range of courses available.” Furthermore, Irish Ambassador to India, Brendan Ward, told the Financial Express that “[t]he Irish education system claims to offer diverse programmes spanning various disciplines. It claims to place a strong emphasis on fostering collaboration between academia and industry, which is achieved through internships, placements and research opportunities[.]”
Abundant career opportunities in Ireland
Another big reason why students from all over the world are drawn to pursue their studies in Ireland is the wealth of opportunities available to them during and after their studies. One of the most interesting ones is the Third Level Graduate Programme which allows non-EEA students who have graduated from Irish higher education institutions with a Level 8 or above degree to remain in Ireland to seek employment. According to the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS), under this scheme, “a person who qualifies will be granted an extension to their current student permission, with an immigration Stamp 1G, for a period of up to 24 months, depending on their level of study. Those eligible to remain for up to 24 months (graduates of level 9 and 10 programmes) will be given permission to remain initially for 12 months, and will then need to renew their visa for a further 12 months.”
Programs and schemes such as this are of great value to international students, because they lessen the pressure on the students to scramble right after they finish their studies. With a Stamp 1G, non-EU/EEA international students are allowed to extend their stay, giving them more room to breathe to be able to find and apply for work. Brendan Ward told the Financial Express, “[t]his scheme grants graduates unrestricted access to the Irish job market, allowing them to work in any field without requiring an employment permit.”
Now for those looking to obtain a work permit, Ireland’s list of critical skills on high demand consists of a broad and diverse roster of professional fields with a shortage of skills within the country. This list can help young professionals understand which skills are favored and needed most by Irish employers. Certain industries are more susceptible to facing skills shortages, such as engineering, natural and social sciences, ICT, healthcare, transport and logistics, and business and finance. Brendan Ward told the Financial Express that “[t]o up their chances of employability and add to Ireland’s attractiveness as a preferred destination for international students, it is advisable for them to align their studies with Ireland’s Critical Skills Occupation List[.]”
India, one of Ireland’s top sending markets in terms of international education, has reportedly sent more than 6,000 students to the Emerlad Isle. Positive growth of Ireland’s economy has caught the attention of Indian students, leading to an increased popularity of the country as a study destination. “One more benefit available to Indian students in Ireland is the opportunity for English language education. Since English serves as the primary medium of instruction, Indian students who are already proficient in the language can effortlessly adjust, perform exceptionally well in their academics and actively participate in interactions with their peers and professors,” says Brendan Ward.
From its excellence in education, booming economy and rich and vibrant culture, we can clearly see why Ireland has been a top choice for international students. It’s a worthy cause to rally together and get more momentum across GSP and its partners to send more students to the Emerald Isle.