Brexit is a big opportunity for Irish universities, says education firm

EduCo International Group setting up in Ireland to attract international students

Former minister for education Ruairí Quinn, Jacob Kestner, head of EduCo International’s Irish operations, Maynooth University president Philip Nolan and DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith

Former minister for education Ruairí Quinn, Jacob Kestner, head of EduCo International’s Irish operations, Maynooth University president Philip Nolan and DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith

 

A global education firm which is setting up in Ireland to recruit international students to Irish universities says Brexit represents a major growth opportunity.

Latest figures show the volume of international students applying to UK colleges is falling, while the number of international applicants to Irish universities has jumped by 17 per cent this year.

EduCo International Group – which has student recruitment and marketing teams in 17 countries – is setting up a base in Ireland and plans to grow the number of undergraduate and postgraduate students coming here from China, India and south-east Asia.

The initiative is a joint venture with entrepreneur Barry O’Callaghan. Former minister for education Ruairí Quinn is an adviser to the company.

Pathway programmes

EduCo is partnering with Maynooth University and Dublin City University to provide pathway programmes to prepare international students for university study.

It says students will be integrated into each university campus from the start of the programme next September, with smaller class sizes and more contact hours aimed at improving their chances of success.

Jacob Kestner, head of EduCo International’s operations in Ireland, said the fact that there was greater uncertainty around traditional destinations such as the UK was good news for Ireland.

“Where international students are choosing to study abroad, increasingly they are not going to the UK. Our education agents – who recruit international students – tell us there is real concern over the UK closing its doors. This is a real Brexit opportunity,” he said.

Irish universities, who are struggling with cuts to public funding, are keen to attract greater numbers of lucrative international students.

Government policy aims to increase the number of international students in Irish third-level institutes from 20,000 to about 30,000 before the end of the decade.

Enhance visibility

DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith said the new partnership will “enhance the visibility of Ireland as a destination of choice for the best international students”.

“As a globally engaged university, DCU is very excited about this opportunity to advance our internationalisation strategy and attract greater numbers of high-calibre international students.”

Maynooth University president Philip Nolan said it was a “major step forward in the internationalisation of Irish higher education”.

He said the university had doubled its international student numbers over the past five years, and had ambitious plans to “further grow our global reach and partnerships”.

Joff Allen, chief executive officer of EduCo International, said Ireland offered a “remarkable combination of quality education, industry-linked universities and a safe and welcoming environment for international students”.