A survey of the student experience of some 40,000 students in 27 Irish higher education institutions (HEIs) reveals that 78.6% of international students are generally positive about their teaching and learning experiences. Of this number, 25% say they have ‘excellent’ interactions with academic advisors in 2019.
The Irish Survey of Student Engagement National Report 2019 also highlights the 26.35% growth of international student participation in the survey over the last three years. The number has grown from 11,406 in 2016 to 14,412 in 2019. Those invited to participate in the student experience survey included first and final year students and taught postgraduate students.
Early this year, the European Migration Network has reported that Ireland grew its international students from non-EEA (non-European Economic Area) countries by 45% over a five-year period from 2013 to 2017. A growing number of international students are choosing to study in Ireland, a country renowned for its educational offering and its increasing number of employment opportunities. In another report released by the PIE Review Edition 22, enrolments rose to 23,127 in 2016-17 from 19,679 in the 2014-15 period, and international student figures have been steadily climbing up year after year.
This steady growth came about after the Department of Education and Skills launched the Irish Government’s International Education Strategy 2016-20 which aims to grow international student numbers for both higher education and English language studies. Ireland will soon become the only English-speaking country in the European Union after Brexit.
HEIs such as Maynooth University, Technological University Dublin, IT Sligo and Dublin City University have also noted the positive feedback from their students. International students particularly those taking their graduate degree programs have indicated that they are satisfied with quality of engagement and support being extended to them in areas that matter most such as (1) career advice, (2) placement and internship and (3) training in entrepreneurship and innovation.
“The [survey] results show some very positive signs around international student engagement with the staff in institutions and services such as career guidance and this is welcome,” says Sarah Lennon, executive director of the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS).
She adds that international students are an important source of income for Irish universities, colleges and English language schools. “It is essential that we don’t just think about international students in terms of the economic impact but also their rights and welfare,” she points out. “We must also recognise that international students add to the richness of our educational institutions.”