23/09/2010

Foreign Education Sector To Boost Earnings

A new blueprint is targeting €1.2 billion earnings annually from the foreign education sector.

The Government has launched a major new strategy aimed at increasing international student numbers in higher education by 50% and in English language schools by 25% by 2015.

On the full implementation of the five-year blueprint - Investing in Global Relationships - the international education sector will be worth €1.2 billion per year to the Irish economy by 2015. It is currently worth an estimated €900m annually.

The Government also launched a new immigration regime for international students - reforming entry requirements but imposing safeguards to prevent abuse of the system.

The strategy was launched this week by the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, the Tanaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, Mary Coughlan and the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern.

The Taoiseach said: "Our aim is for Ireland to be regarded as a world-leading provider of international education.

"This strategy and new student immigration regime sets out a shared vision for how Ireland can compete to the highest international standards and recruit talented students from overseas."

The Minister for Justice said: "Advanced non-EEA graduates, alongside Irish and EU graduates, have the potential to become entrepreneurs, high skills employees or scientific researchers in key sectors of the economy of the future.

"It is therefore important that we provide an opportunity for such non-EEA graduates to progress within the immigration system after their graduation and for those students to utilise their skills to the benefit of the Irish economy."

At its heart, the strategy sets out 10 core actions to improve Ireland's performance, including a partnership-based approach between Government and the education sectors and a rejuvenated national education brand which is being managed by Enterprise Ireland.

The international education strategy and the new student immigration rules were developed in tandem and are mutually complementary.

(BMcC/GK)

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