Top universities and colleges in Ireland are using the two-year post-study visa opportunity for international students as a major selling point to attract students from Africa, according to reports.
The student recruitment drive is aimed specifically at Anglophone African countries. Over 30,000 foreign students, mostly Nigerians, were studying in Ireland in 2021.
Another major attraction is the fact that Irish universities are among the top 5% in the world with very affordable fees. Irish schools also provide a safe and welcoming environment.
Data on the number of African students: Between 2018 and 2021, the number of African students increased by 61%, from 800 in 2018 to 1,300 in 2020. The biggest increase occurred in 2019 when enrollment increased by 53% to 1,230 from 800 the previous year.
According to the Irish Universities Association, 32,000 foreign students were studying in Ireland in 2021, with about 3% of them being from Africa.
Increasing fellowship programmes for Africans: In its most recent strategy, Ireland’s Department for Foreign Affairs indicated that for many years it has awarded around 2,000 fellowship programs to ‘partner countries, most of them to African nationals.
The DFA further stated that it is committed to doubling the current number of 150 by 2025, to attract beneficiaries from Africa.
Why Nigerians prefer Ireland for international studies: Due to its relatively low tuition fees and living expenses in comparison to the United Kingdom and other European nations, the Republic of Ireland has recently become a popular choice for Nigerian students.
Furthermore, the country is becoming more attractive to Nigerian students as it bills itself as the “Silicon Valley of Europe” and is home to over 1,000 multinational corporations, making it the perfect location for potential industrial attachments and internship opportunities for students.
For instance, there are many ICT, social media, pharmaceutical, and financial corporate giants that have made Ireland the hub of their European operations. Some are Google, HP, Apple, IBM, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pfizer, GSK, and others. They also often collaborate with higher education institutions for internships and job placement.
As limitations are being placed on international students to the UK on post-study work visas, the graduate route as well as the impending deportation of students to their home countries after study as reported earlier, the Republic of Ireland may capitalize on this opportunity and create more aggressive student recruitment moves.