Ireland Expects 33% Growth of International Students Enrollment By 2020

Ireland has announced a new international education strategy for 2016-2020. It aims to grow more than the previous cycle of 2010-2015. So they have launched a new cycle of targets and implementation for Irish educators and policymakers.

Irish Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton said “As a small and open trading economy, we must continue to diversify our economy. After graduation, International students play strong role to help Irish exporting companies to internationalize further and reach new markets through their links to their home countries.”

The new strategy includes the following goals.

  • A 33% increase in international enrollment in Irish higher education. This aims to build on the 2014/15 enrollment of 33,118 to reach 44,000 foreign students by 2019/20.
  • A 25% increase in enrollment in English Language Teaching (ELT) programs. In terms of head count, this would mean an increase of nearly 30,000 students from 2014/15’s enrollment of 106,000 to reach 132,500 students in the first half of 2020.
  • A one-third (33%) increase in the overall economic impact of the sector, which would see the economic outputs of international education in Ireland grow from €1.58 billion (US$1.67 billion) in 2014/2015 to €2.1 billion (US$2.34 billion) by 2019/2020.

These targets follow a five-year period of expansion in Ireland’s International Student Enrollment, during which :

  • Total foreign student enrollment in Irish higher education increased from 20,995 in 2010/11 to 33,118 in 2014/15. This overall increase of 58% was driven by an 85% in non-EU enrollment, and a 68% increase in foreign students enrolled in undergraduate programs.
  • Head count enrollment in Irish ELT programs grew by 10% over the same period, with total student-weeks booked increasing by 29%.

The 2016-2020 strategy gives an important role to ELT programs. It aims to improve student services and also sets out a much more integrated marketing approach that links ELT and post-secondary education more strongly via a coordinated approach to international recruitment.

In a related development, the strategy also sets out a broad framework for the long-awaited International Education Mark (IEM), a quality assurance designation for Irish institutions and schools. The government now expects to enact related legislation for the implementation of the IEM by 2018.

Moving forward the implementation of the 2016-2020 strategy will be guided by the High-Level Group on International Education, a task group made up of peak bodies and government officials, and by a number of sub-groups focused on specific aspects of the strategy or segments of Irish education.