According to figures released by Marketing English in Ireland (MEI), the association that represents 60 regulated language schools and colleges nationwide, Ireland has experienced a massive 10% increase in English language students studying in Ireland in 2015. With an increase to 107,129 students in 2015 from 97,610 in 2014, there was strong growth across all parts of the sector with significant increases in students from Asia.
Of the total number of students (107,129) attending programmes at MEI schools and colleges, approximately 78,000 students (73%) coming from the EU / EEA region. Approximately 18,500 students (17%) came from the non-EU / EEA where no visas were required, e.g. Brazil, Japan and South Korea. The remaining 10,300 students (10%) came from non-EU / EEA where visas are required, e.g. Russia, Saudi Arabia and China.
According to David O’Grady CEO of MEI, “The international education sector in Ireland is highly regulated and the figures in this report from MEI show that it contributes significantly to the Irish domestic economy. In addition, the majority of students are staying with host families as part of their language and cultural experience. Student safety is paramount and all of the teachers, all of the host families and all personnel involved with the education of the students have to undergo Garda vetting procedures. This badge of quality from MEI member schools and colleges, along with the strict regulation helps to ensure a positive experience for international students in Ireland.”
In a major boost for the Irish economy, the 107,129 students, on average, spent over 6 weeks in Ireland. In 2015 students coming to Ireland from the European Union area stayed for just over 2 and a half weeks. Students from outside the European Union, who are not required to have a visa, stayed on average just over 18 weeks and students who are required to have a visa stayed for just under 11 weeks. Estimates from MEI indicate that the total fees paid by these international English language students in 2015 was €278.3million, which covered student fees, accommodation and travel.
“It is really impressive that students from a total of 89 countries flocked to Ireland in 2015 and shows the global appeal that Ireland has a destination of choice for quality English language education. The largest number of students once again came from Italy, Spain and France. At the other end of the table in terms of numbers were countries such as Bahrain, Tajikistan and Tunisia with one student each,” said David O’Grady CEO MEI.
He continued, “There has been really large increases in students coming to Ireland from South Korea and 2015 saw a 32% increase in student numbers across all categories. The rise from 2165 students in 2014 to 2854 students in 2015 is in part attributed to an increased focus by MEI in recent years on markets such as South Korea and China. MEI expects to see strong growth continue with students coming to Ireland from Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Turkey and China.”
The international education sector is an extremely valuable one for the Irish economy and international students supported the employment of 900 full time teachers and 600 full time administrative staff across the 60 regulated MEI member schools and colleges nationwide. During the peak summer months of June, July and August, teacher numbers rose to 1800 and administrative staff rose to 800. The total gross wage gill was approximately €40 million in 2015.