Word Of Mouth Recommendations Bring Indian Students To Ireland: Irish Ambassador – Outlook India

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Updated: 19 Feb 2022 8:52 am
While a decade ago, there were hardly a few hundred Indians pursuing higher education, the number has gone up significantly in the past few years.  
“In 2019, almost 5,000 Indian students were studying in Ireland and that rate has been steadily increasing at about 10 per cent annually,” Brendan Ward, Ireland’s Ambassador in India, told Outlook. This means that Indian students make up about 4 per cent of the total international students studying in Ireland. 
Education in Ireland, an arm of Enterprise Ireland (an agency of the government of Ireland), is holding a virtual study tour on February 26 for South Asian students to promote Ireland as an attractive destination for studying abroad.   
Talking about Ireland’s preparation to welcome international students post-Covid, Ward believes that his country is fully prepared and ready to provide a safe and healthy environment in the post-Covid reopening.
“Our universities and colleges are pretty much fully open and functioning normally. Everyday life in Ireland is almost back to normal, with few essential restrictions. It’s now possible for students to attend physical classes, enjoying all the opportunities of college, as well as the social and cultural activities,” Ward said.  
He hopes that the growth in the number of Indian students will continue to be high because of their positive experience in the country. “In fact, word of mouth recommendations from former students and their families are one of our biggest recruiting advantages,” Ward said.
“Besides, Ireland offers a number of advantages over other countries. For example, the programmes offered here are considerably less expensive than those offered in the US. Also, visas for foreign students are rather easier to come by than in the US.”
With a population of about 50 lakh, Ireland is a very small country as compared to India. Dublin, its Capital has some good universities such as the famous Trinity College and offers quality education and a good life. Ward claims that several of the country’s higher educational institutions are “ranked within the top 5% globally, and several of them ranked within the top 200 globally as in within the top 0.1 of 1%.”
“The Irish government permits foreign students from outside the European Union to work in Ireland for a certain period once they've graduated. In the case of students with master's and doctoral degrees, this permit extends to two years,” Ward said.
Also, several top global companies of information and communication technology have their Europe, Africa and Middle East headquarters in Ireland making it a good destination to land jobs. “There are plenty of useful job opportunities here, which will provide globally valuable experience for students once they complete their master's degree in Ireland,” he added.
With just 4 per cent unemployment — quite low by European standards – Ireland has a steady and strong demand for graduates, particularly for postgraduates and doctors in fields of science, technology, engineering and maths.
“Companies like Facebook and Google employ thousands of people in Ireland, mostly in Dublin. In many of these companies, there are already well established Indians in senior positions, who interact with Indian students through the universities and colleges,” Ward said.
The official language of Ireland is Irish and the country values its tradition. Ward says that 99 per cent of the population speaks English which is also the language of instruction in its educational institution. Perhaps, that’s the reason why a major share of Ireland’s international students are from Britain and the US.
“We receive quite a large number of British students in Ireland. Obviously, Britain's departure from the European Union would affect that in years to come. But we'd expect those links to remain fairly constant,” Ward said. 
Another factor that, according to Ward, lets Indian students feel at home is the growing Indian community from a few hundred a decades ago to over 50,000 today. “Though this is just about 1 per cent of the total population yet good Indian restaurants, shopping options, stores, temples, social community groups, university affinity groups along with plenty of other facilities ensure they don't get homesick,” he added. 
Ward feels that the greatest strength of Indian students is their eagerness to soak up the culture of their host country and interact with their fellow students from around the world. “They tend to bring in a lot of creativity. And I think they value the opportunity that they're getting,” he said. 
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