Student visa delays could cost UCD millions in fees

University president says Irish colleges face reputational damage internationally

UCD President Andrew Deeks: Visa delays could cause reputational damage to Irish universities.

UCD President Andrew Deeks: Visa delays could cause reputational damage to Irish universities.


Serious delays for international students acquiring visas could cost UCD €8.4 million worth of fees, the college’s president Andrew Deeks has told the Department of Justice

Mr Deeks said if international students did not receive visas in time to start their studies in September millions of euros in fees would be lost, causing major “reputational damage” to Ireland’s universities internationally.

He was writing to the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, and the Minister for Education Richard Burton in late April 2017, the letter was obtained under the Freedom of Information (FoI) act.

Mr Deeks said the number of students from India accepted to study in UCD has doubled in the last year. “We are seriously concerned that the New Delhi [IRISH]visa office’s current workforce will be overwhelmed and unable to handle the increased volume,” he wrote.

He said UCD are expecting 700 Indian students with places in UCD to apply for visas between June and August, compared to 300 during the same time last year. Mr Deeks said if 400 international students were not able to take up their place in UCD due to visa delays the lost revenue for the college would be €8.4 million.

“The failure in the timely approval of study visas would lead to reputational damage for Ireland and its international education profile” Mr Deeks wrote.

Across the university sector the number of non-EU international students applying to Irish colleges has increased following uncertainty around higher education in the United Kingdom after the Brexit vote.

The number of applications from non-EU students to UCD has increased by 26 per cent overall this year, and University College Cork has seen a 40 per cent rise in international student applications.

Irish universities are increasingly reliant on the revenue that comes with international students, as they pay annual fees of around €21,000.

A spokesman from UCD said visa delays “have the potential to undo some of the hard work of the universities in attracting applications from international students”.

A spokeswoman for the University of Limerick (UL) said with the current visa processing time in the New Dehli visa office “many students may not receive their visas on time to commence their studies”.

“Not only will this have an impact on UL, it will also impact on Ireland’s reputation as an international education destination” she said.

UL’s teaching term begins on the 4th of September, and UCD student’s term starts on September 11th.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said applications for student visas to Ireland this year have increased by 17 per cent.

“A number of measures were put in place to deal with the expected demand this summer including the assignment of additional staff to the visa office in New Delhi and elsewhere to specifically process these applications” he said.