According to the Dutch NUFFIC’s website www.transfermagazine.nl, Ireland can’t cope with international competition in the higher education sector, even though due to the governments of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain giving scholarships, the population of international students is still growing very slowly. The Irish are worried however, according to the article, because they can hardly cope with the competition of other English-speaking countries. From their most important recruitment country, China, there were 10% less students in Ireland this year and in India they just can’t get their marketing campaigns off the ground.
The article of NUFFIC is based on what the Education in Ireland (EII) concludes in its yearly rapport about incoming study mobility. The number of students grew with 2%, making a total of 32.000 in the country. It is quite remarkable if you look at the differences between different types of education. Universities had a growth of 8% and even 35% more PhD’s, but private colleges noted a loss of 22% and the technological institutions also lost 1% of their international students.
No success in India
Ireland is having a hard time competing with English-speaking countries, and whilst the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are investing strongly in their international markets, the EII feels terribly handicapped due to their austerity driven budget after recent cuts. They have had some publicity in India with the famous cricket player Kevin O’Brien, but even that didn’t increase the positive results. The UK has about 40.000 Indian students arriving to study in a year; Ireland only had 900 last year. Note: the Netherlands also has generally lower numbers of Indian students, in relation to those from other BRIC countries.
The Chinese are staying at home
Most of Ireland’s international students are Chinese: 5100 in total, that’s about 15% of the international students. This amount of Chinese students has been stable for the last couple of years, however the EII finds alarming that there are less Chinese students who actually came to Ireland; in 2011-2012: 10% less than the year before. Interestingly, almost half (46%) of the Chinese students at Irish institutions, study in their own country at the Irish “branch campus”, something that the Netherlands government does not yet permit.
The Gulf States and Brazil give hope
The EII says that the disappointing results are directly due to the cuts in de higher education institutions and sector as a whole. The institutions simply don’t have enough capacity and manpower to compete in de international completion. The EII will keep doing their best to market and achieve something in in India, but next to that they put their hopes into the Gulf States and Brazil, they are investing in their Science Without Borders-programme for outgoing students from Brazil, just as the Netherlands does.