Friday, August 08, 2008

How not to recruit international students . . .

It was really rather disheartening to see that the Irish Department of Justice has just ruled that students from outside the European Economic Area will no longer be able to bring their children with them on their student visas (as reported in an article in Wednesday's Irish Times).

Given that Ireland is already way behind its English-speaking 'competitor' countries in terms of the numbers of international students recruited, this decision is surely going to deliver a huge blow to the prospects of increased recruitment. The 'left hand' of government is strongly encouraging universities to expand their 4th Level provision, and the 'right hand' of government is actively discouraging potential postgraduate students to come here. I don't get it.

I do believe that Irish universities would benefit from increased international student recruitment, if they can get it right. Part of getting it right involves an appreciation of education for 'global citizenship', and a willingness to bring about cultural exchanges that enrich the academic environment. If international students are treated as second-class citizens from the start, it is very difficult to bring about positive outcomes.

4 comments:

topgold said...

I wonder if the Dept of Justice is setting education policy. I also wonder if anyone at the coal face of higher education was consulted before instituting this unfortunate restriction.

Kelly said...

Yes, indeed. However, I have subsequently heard (on good authority) that the underlying agenda is to make sure that children of international students do not take up state-funded school places. There may be some allowances made in future on a case-by-case basis for students who can prove that any children accompanying them to Ireland will not be taking up places in state schools. Although this is more encouraging than a blanket ban on all children, it still seems to be a highly unfortunate restriction.

Eoin said...

Interestingly, we are not alone in applying such a policy: yesterday's Observer has an article on similar moves in the UK! Of course, just because we have company on the bandwagon doesn't make it right.

GMIS said...

Ireland may be cutting of its nose to spite its face.

International Education is now Australia's third largest export industry behind iron ore and coal. It is worth about A$12b per year. There are clearly some pretty serious economic benefits. Maybe a few state funded school places for the children of international students are a good investment?