Ireland: Higher education destination

Written by Vikram Chaudhary | Updated: Nov 11 2013, 16:30pm hrs
Trinity College DublinFounded in 1592, Trinity College Dublin is among the oldest educational institutes in the world.
Ireland not only offers quality higher education but foreign students engaged in full-time study of at least one-year duration currently do not need a work permit to work in Ireland

Why, of all the countries in the world, would I want to study in Ireland, especially if I am looking for a higher education destination I ask myself as I land in Dublin, the capital of the Emerald Isle (the poetic name of Ireland due to its green countryside). I am in the country on an invitation from Enterprise Ireland, the government organisation responsible for the growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. Our itinerary takes us from Dublin to Cork to Limerick and Galway and back. As I get on my journey, I get to see that Ireland is a beautiful island, combining contemporary modern cities with an unspoilt countryside.

WIT: Our first stop is Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), the major provider of higher education in the South East region of Ireland. On being asked why a student should choose WIT as a study destination, Prof Denis Harrington, the head of Graduate Business, replies, WIT received more than 100 million euros in research funding over the last 10 years, making WIT an attractive choice for students. He adds that WIT is a state-sector, university-level college which is funded directly by the Irish government. This means that its facilities and infrastructure are of excellent quality.

CIT: Moving on, we reach the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). CIT is one of the most highly rated higher education colleges in Ireland, both in terms of facilities and in the great student-staff relations, says Michael Loftus, the head of Faculty at CIT. About the city of Cork, he adds, Cork is a centre of entrepreneurship, business development and employment generation. CIT, as I find out, has a total enrolment in excess of 14,000 full-time and part-time students.

UCC: Then we leave for University College Cork (UCC), which is Irelands premier research university attracting the highest peer-reviewed research income per head nationally. Prof Patrick Fitzpatrick, head of College, says that founded in 1845, UCC is one of the oldest universities in Ireland. Its degrees, conferred by the National University of Ireland, are internationally recognised, he says. As I meet various Indian students at UCC, Prof Fitzpatrick adds that UCC has more than 2,400 students from 98 countries.

UL: The next day we reach the University of Limerick (UL), an independent university with over 11,000 students and 1,313 staff. Located 5 km from Limerick city, UL has a large campus133 hectares. This means that UL has an on-campus accommodation for 2,000 students. Aiofe Mathews shares that UL currently offers 72 UG programmes and 103 taught PG programmes.

Later we visit the Shannon College of Hotel Management. Founded in 1951, it is a Recognised College of the National University of Ireland and offers bachelors business degrees in international hotel management. Kate OConnell says that here graduates receive the only degree in hotel management awarded by National University of Ireland.

NUI: Then we move to Galway and reach the National University of Ireland (NUI). Prof Lokesh Joshi, vice-president for Research, NUI, says, Our research strengths include Biomedical Science and Engineering; Environmental Science, Marine Science, Human Rights Law, Internet Technology, Digital Humanities, Social Gerontology, Child and Family Research. He also tells that NUI is the largest research institute for developing internet technology; Irelands primary stem cell and gene therapy institute; and a leading institute for human rights law.

NUIM: From Galway, we move towards Dublin and reach National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM), which is Irelands second-oldest university. It is located in Irelands only university town 20 km from Dublin. The campus is laid out in rural surroundings. The director of International Education Wayne Henry shares that NUIM is Irelands fastest growing university with over 8,500 students from more than 50 countries. As NUIM is the only university located in a town rather than a city, the cost of living here is relatively less, Wayne Henry says.

DCU: From NUIM we reach Dublin in about 20 minutes and head to the Dublin City University (DCU), a young university that started admitting its first students in 1980. Today, DCU occupies a 72-acre site in north of Dublin and houses over 11,000 students. At DCU we meet Tony McEnroe, the centre director of the Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce (IC4), who tells us that IC4 is an industry-led centre of excellence for innovation and applied research, which is focused on accelerating the development and adoption of cloud computing in Ireland. Among the various goals of IC4, one is to confirm Ireland as a location where inward investing companies can get access to leading-edge expertise in cloud computing as well as to a source of cloud-educated graduates, McEnroe says.

GCD: Then we move to Griffith College Dublin (GCD), about a 20-minute walk from Dublin city centre. Established in 1974, GCD is the largest private higher education college in Ireland. Kevin Geoghegan, head of International Office, GCD, says, We have over 1,400 students from 77 nationalities studying with us. Foreign students have contributed greatly to the success of GCD, both academically and through sporting and cultural achievements.

DIT: The next morning we visit the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), one of Irelands largest institutes of higher education. Located in the heart of Dublin, DIT has more than 22,000 students enrolled on full and part-time programmes and also has over 1,000 international students. Prof Mary McNamara, head of the Graduate Research School, DIT, shares that DIT is a member of the European University Association. DIT focuses on one-to-one contact between staff and students. We boast of an excellent student-staff ratio with average class sizes of 35 students, she adds.

NCI: Soon we arrive at the National College of Ireland (NCI), which is a city centre campus. Our purpose-built campus includes a spacious atrium area, tiered lecture theatres and computer labs. We have excellent transport links with the Luas (Dublins tram) and mainline train stations, says Pramod Pathak, dean of School. When asked why students should choose NCI, Pathak says, Through our schools of business and computing, we offer globally-recognised programmes accredited through Quality and Qualifications Ireland.

UCD: Our next stop is the University College Dublin (UCD). Prof Jeremy Simpson, associate dean for International Study, shares that UCD is Irelands largest and most diverse university with over 30,000 students drawn from 124 countries. Prof Simpson adds, UCD is home to over 5,000 international students. In addition, UCD places great emphasis on the internationalisation of the Irish student experience. The role of UCD within Irish higher education is underscored by the fact that UCD alone accounts for over 30% of international students, over 25% of all graduate students and almost 28% of all doctoral enrolments across seven Irish universities.

We also make it a point to go to UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business SchoolIrelands leading business school that offers a range of PG business programmes. The Business School is one of the less than 60 schools worldwide to hold triple accreditation from the US, Europe and the UK accrediting bodies.

TCD: No visit to Irish higher education institutes is complete without going to the Trinity College Dublin (TCD). Founded in 1592, TCD is among the oldest educational institutes in the world. Ronan Hodson, regional officer for India, tells us that TCD builds on its 400-year-old tradition of scholarship to confirm its position as one of the great universities of the world, providing a liberal environment where staff and students are encouraged to achieve their full potential. Prof Jane Ohlmeyer, vice-president for Global Relations, TCD, says, TCD is ranked 61st in the top 100 universities by the QS World University Rankings 2013. Recently, TCD was made famous in India because a large portion of the popular movie Ek Tha Tiger was shot at TCD.

With TCD our short visit comes to an end and as I meet Marina Donohoe (head of Education in Ireland) and James Mackrill (manager at Education in Ireland), I get back to my question, Why, of all the countries in the world, would I want to study in Ireland James Mackrill says, In 2010, Lonely Planet named Ireland the most friendly country in the world. Then, Irelands higher education institutions are committed to ensuring that visiting students have all the information needed for an enjoyable and fruitful stay. He also says that Ireland is the only English-speaking country in the eurozone and thats one of the reasons why so many MNCs locate their European base in Ireland.

Marina Donohoe tells us that international students engaged in full-time study of at least one years duration (on a course leading to a qualification which is recognised by the Irish Department of Education and Skills) currently do not need a work permit to work in Ireland. It may be possible for students to stay in Ireland after they complete their studies for the purpose of seeking employment under the Irish Third Level Graduate Scheme. This scheme exists to allow legally resident non-EU third-level graduates to remain in Ireland in order to look for employment or apply for a green card/work permit, Donohoe adds.