07 Mar 2016 20:54 IST

Ireland catches up as preferred foreign destination for education

Indians have added advantage with a growing population in the country

Vatsal Chandra, 24, is excited about his new role with the United Nations Development Programme as a research analyst. Chandra says, he owes it to his tenure spent studying and working at Ireland. After completing his graduation from IIMC, New Delhi, Chandra had moved to Ireland to pursue higher studies in international relations at University College Dublin (UCD).

“Ireland is an English-speaking country and the low course fee for the one-year programme made me opt for Ireland,” says Chandra.

“For a coveted programme like this one, that is ranked highly across the globe, I paid only $7000 (₹5 lakh) for a year here, as I received a scholarship of 40 per cent.”

Chandra also managed to earn a significant part of his living expenses in Ireland. After completing his course, he stayed back in Ireland for another year and continued working part-time as a teaching assistant, taking classes for undergraduate students at UCD.

Like Chandra, many students, especially those wanting to pursue programmes in social sciences and engineering, are looking at Ireland as a preferred destination. Since last year, Irish institutes have registered an increase in enquiries by more than 70 per cent.

“A lot of technical courses are very popular among Indian students. Students show interest in programmes in applied computing, data analytics, biotechnology, pharma, and electronic engineering,” says Barry O’ Driscoll, Senior Education Advisor at Enterprise Ireland. Many undergraduate students also look at programmes in humanities.

Turning preference

Traditionally, people have been looking at destinations like the US, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand for education. However, in the past few years, Ireland has caught up.

“The number of students coming to Ireland has doubled in the last three years,” says Brian McElduff, Ireland's Ambassador to India.

“We have the capacity, and student interest is rising, so we are looking at doubling it again in three to five years.”

Currently, around 2,000 Indian students are studying in Ireland, and the number can go up to 3,000 by end of this year.

One of the primary reasons for students opting for Ireland is the low cost of pursuing education. Coupled with scholarships and an option to work part-time, Ireland becomes an even more lucrative option.

“Scholarships worth ₹6 crore are offered, specifically to Indian students,” informs Driscoll.

“Apart from that, they can also work part time to gain some income, i.e. upto 20 hours a week during the academic term, and 40 hours a week during holidays.”

Another reason why Indians are looking at Ireland as a viable place of study is the option to stay back in the country following their studies, to look for professional opportunities.

Life in Ireland

One of the top advantages of studying in Ireland is the improved quality of life, according to Horacio Gonzalez, Associate Professor and Head of the Cloud Competency Centre at National College of Ireland.

“We are a small country, but we have a growing population of Indians. There are over 25,000 Indians living in Ireland. You can easily find places that cater to Indians in Ireland,” says Gonzalez.

“All the colleges have active Indian networks. Because we have smaller cities, there is very little chance of feeling alienated. Morever, Ireland is a very welcoming place,” he adds.

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