Ireland aims to take advantage of being the EU’s only English-speaking country in a plan to boost international student numbers by more than 37,000 and generate an extra €520m a year.
With Brexit now set to be finalised by early 2019, Education Minister Richard Bruton will launch a new international education strategy this morning in which a target of almost 11,000 extra third-level students has been set for the end of the 2019/2020 academic year.
The target for the English-language training (ELT) sector is set even higher, with plans to increase numbers from 106,000 to 132,500, a 25% increase.
“There will be strong opportunities for Ireland in the area of international education when Ireland becomes the only English-speaking member of the EU,” Mr Bruton said.
The ELT sector currently generates around €760m a year and it is intended to increase that by around €200m to just under €1bn.
Despite hundreds of overseas students being left at a loss when several English language colleges closed in recent years, the country continues to attract growing numbers from non-EU countries.
Marketing English in Ireland (MEI), representing 62 regulated English language schools, said there are indications that growth of recent years will continue. It said students from 89 countries came here last year to learn English but the challenge for the sector is to focus on areas and countries that will continue growing, as well as the traditionally strong markets like Italy, Spain and France.
The Department of Education strategy will direct funding at promotional campaigns in key markets like the United States, China, India, Brazil, Malaysia and the Gulf region. But focus will also be moved to high-potential markets in Canada, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Nigeria.