Maynooth University is part of national efforts to strengthen Ireland’s intercultural and international campuses, wider communities and the economy. Sinead Lucey, International Education Manager at IUA, shared her thoughts about the developments of HEI internationalisation:
1). What do you believe to be the main challenges to the process of internationalisation underway in Irish HEIs?
There are challenges to internationalisation at an institutional level. For internationalisation to be successful there needs to be a whole of institution approach with academic buy in as well as senior leadership in full support of the internationalisation process. Internationalisation champions should be encouraged and supported to progress internationalisation efforts, especially in the area of student/staff exchange, curriculum development and research collaboration.
Outward mobility programmes must focus on unlocking the benefits of internationalisation for all students not just those who can afford it. Challenges exist for universities to meet the demand by international students for higher education. Many programmes that are attractive to international students are over- subscribed and the development of new programmes to deal with this demand requires significant time, resources and strategic planning.
2). What do you think will be the main in international education in Ireland in the next 3-5 years?
Ireland will continue to attract international students from all over the world especially the US, China, India and the Middle East. Ireland has seen significant increases in the number of students coming from China and India and I believe we will see further increases coming from South East Asia, Africa and South America. Ireland’s profile as a quality Higher Education destination has dramatically increased as a result of Brexit and changes to the UK’s immigration policy, as students who traditionally went to the UK are seeking alternatives.
The development of summer programmes/shorter mobility periods is emerging across the HE sector as is the development of international internship opportunities for HE students. Irish Universities are focused on providing a career pathway for students and mobility is seen as enhancing career opportunities, therefore we should see a trend in HE for further support of mobility opportunities for students.
3). What factors make Ireland an attractive choice for international students?
International students choose Ireland as it is a safe, friendly, English-speaking country. There is an excellent choice of disciplines and courses open to international students and when students research course options, the quality of Higher Education in Ireland stands out. The quality of multinational and indigenous companies offering opportunities to international students is also very attractive, as is the Graduate work scheme, especially for students who graduate from a Masters of PhD programme and are eligible for a 2 year Graduate work visa.