Innovation is at the heart of Ireland’s knowledge economy: Patrick O’ Riordan

By: | Published: December 8, 2014 12:12 AM

Last month, universities from Ireland participated in the Education in Ireland fairs in New Delhi, Pune, Chennai and Bangalore...

Last month, universities from Ireland participated in the Education in Ireland fairs in New Delhi, Pune, Chennai and Bangalore. These fairs promote Irish higher education institutes in India. Patrick O’ Riordan, Enterprise Ireland—Director India/South Asia Commercial Section, Embassy of Ireland, explains Vikram Chaudhary of The Financial Express how Ireland has made huge advances in making its education system more open to the brightest and best young Indian minds. Excerpts:

Has Ireland seen a growth in the number of Indian students of late?

From a base of 850 Indian students choosing to study in Ireland in 2012, this doubled in 2013—with the potential to grow to over 3,000 by 2016. The marketing message is simple. Ireland offers a great return on investment (RoI) for Indian students driven by three key factors: (1) an excellent international education; (2) a guaranteed one-year post-graduation stay-back programme; and (3) now the fastest growing economy in Europe with 5% GDP growth projected in 2014, with skill shortages in the ICT industry in particular.

Which is the most popular university in Ireland among Indian students?

University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin are currently leading the way with strong growth being experienced by all seven of Ireland’s national universities, together with an additional 15 institutes of technology and regulated private colleges. Irish universities feature among the world’s best education institutions. In fact, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2011, Ireland is in the top-20 countries for its higher education system. Most common courses Indian students pursue are biotechnology, business/finance, ICT, pharma and medtech related.

What kind of RoI Indian students experience in Ireland?

Ireland has a one-year stay-back system in place which guarantees students the opportunity to remain in Ireland post-graduation for a period of one year and seek employment in booming sectors such as ICT and financial services. During the approved stay under the scheme, a student can work full-time. Some of our universities offer four-year undergrad programmes with year three being a highly paid one for placement in some of the signature global MNCs. Experience has proven that by the end of undergrad in such course, high-performing skilled graduates are often offered full-time positions post-qualification in the companies involved.

The Irish economy, apparently, is a great place to work as far as e-commerce and analytics is concerned. Have there been any start-up or entrepreneurial ventures by Indians that are currently successfully operational in Ireland?

There are a number of Indian promoters of high-potential start-ups in Ireland. In fact, our venture experience in Ireland indicates that the best promoter teams are international and diversified in respect of skills and experiences.

What exactly is the one-year stay-back option? How has it benefited non-Irish students who may want to start their career in Ireland? What happens after one year?

In many respects Ireland has made huge advances in making its education system more open to the brightest and best young Indian minds. We offer a guaranteed visa stay-back for one year and the opportunity for Indian students to work during the vacation period. The guaranteed one-year visa stay-back programme, allied to our skills shortages in IT, bio-pharma, medical devices, food science and financial services industries, makes Ireland a compelling option for the best and brightest young Indian students.

What is the percentage of non-Irish students that get absorbed into the local workforce post their graduation after studying in Ireland?
Many universities assist with placements. Some of them have career fairs for this purpose. In fact, each university has a career services department which helps students to procure placements. The courses at universities also have the option of work placements which international students find very useful.

The Irish NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications) system is compatible with the ENIC-NARIC (European Network of Information Centres/National Academic Recognition Information Centres), which facilitates the recognition of academic qualifications throughout Europe and internationally in countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

What are the qualities of a new-age entrepreneur and what is the role of innovation in business sustainment? How much of this is being inculcated in the Irish higher education system?

Qualities of the best venture teams in Ireland are that they are led by teams of promoters rather than individuals. Diversity of skills and experiences in Irish-based companies is very desirable and increasingly evident.

Innovation is at the heart of Ireland’s knowledge economy and there is a huge emphasis in inculcating an innovation mindset amongst students. Most Irish universities now offer and encourage entrepreneurship across STEM disciplines. This strategy is working with Ireland ranking first in the world for the availability of skills and fourth for the quality of its education system.

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