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Barry O’Driscoll, Development Advisor, Enterprise Ireland

Barry O’Driscoll, Development Advisor, Enterprise Ireland

Ireland is a much sought after destination for education, with its universities in the top most list, globally. On his visit to India, Barry O’Driscoll, Development Advisor, Enterprise Ireland, shares with Aamir H Kaki of Elets News Network (ENN) the education scenario in Ireland, opportunities for Indian students, Ireland Government’s initiative to promote education in India and much more

How do you perceive the education scenario in India as compared to Ireland?

Despite the significant difference in scale, both India and Ireland place great importance on education for economic development and prosperity. Ireland has a long tradition of education excellence and is known as ‘The Land of Saints and Scholars’. This tradition stretches back to the Middle Ages when Irish monks were leading educationalists within Europe. Today, Ireland has one of the highest education participation rates in the world. Ireland is, in fact, the most ’youthful’ country in the EU, with four out of 10 people (40.1 per cent) aged under 30. In turn, this has had a positive impact on the economic growth and development of our country.

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India, with a growing young population, is seeing an increased demand for higherlevel education, including overseas study. Ireland, despite its size, is well placed to provide world-class education to Indian students at all levels from undergraduate and postgraduate to PhD level.

What are the opportunities for Irish Universities in India, with regard to collaboration and imparting distance education?

Ireland’s higher education institutions have their own individual strategies for internationalisation, but one common priority in the longer term is to increase the level of mobility of students and staff – in both directions. Currently, there are over 2,000 Indian students studying in Ireland at higher level, and this is growing yearon- year. The next step in collaboration is to increase the number of partnerships, whereby Irish students and staff, may travel to universities in India to undertake postgraduate studies or for research collaborations.

What steps the Government of Ireland is taking in promoting the participation of Indian students in Irish universities?

The Education in Ireland brand comes under the remit of Ireland’s Department of Education and Skills. The ‘Government of Ireland Scholarships’ for Indian students offer full fee waivers as well as stipend to cover their living expenses. There are also around 200 scholarships from our higher education institutions that comprise grants, ranging from 25 per cent to 100 per cent of the education expenses.

What are the focus areas of your visit to India?

We are travelling with a group of 11 educational institutions from Ireland across five cities of India, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune and Delhi. The academic staff in the delegation come from a range of disciplines, including management, data analytics, and mobile technologies. In general, the majority of students we have been meeting for the past several years look at postgraduate options, mainly in engineering, business and sciences. However, we are now seeing an increased interest from students in the areas of arts and humanities, and also at undergraduate level. We have a visa officer with us to undertake one-on-one counselling with students in order to answer all their queries on the visa application process.

What is ‘Education in Ireland’ initiative all about?

‘Education in Ireland’ is the Government brand that promotes Ireland as a destination for international education. We undertake events in India at various times throughout the year, including education fairs, predeparture briefings, alumni events and media engagements. Our aim in India is to increase awareness about the high quality education that is available in Ireland. All of Ireland’s universities rank in the top five per cent globally. Our institutes of technology are renowned for their close links with the industry. Irish universities are in the top one percent of research institutions in the world, in terms of research impact in 19 fields, spanning natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.

Whether it is science, business or engineering, studying in Ireland can be a passport to a successful career. Ireland has a one-year stay back option, which allows international graduates to remain in the country for one year to seek employment.

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