As part of an official visit to China, the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, TD, today (Wednesday 13th) met with the Chinese Minister for Education, Yuan Guiren.
The Ministers explored opportunities for increasing cooperation on education matters, with Minister Quinn highlighting the quality of Ireland's education system.
Minister Quinn informed his Chinese counterpart of the new Chinese language and culture programmes being piloted in Irish second level and expressed his hope that Minister Guiren would visit Ireland soon.
Minister Guiren welcomed the involvement by Irish universities in delivering programmes and developing campuses in China. Both agreed to hold further official level talks in Beijing later in the year.
There are currently approximately 5,000 Chinese students studying in Ireland of which 300 are pursuing PhDs - the second largest nationality grouping.
Minister Quinn is visiting Hong Kong, Bejing and Shanghai until the 17th of March, promoting Ireland as an excellent place to study and do business. He is accompanied by an Enterprise Ireland trade delegation comprising of more than 15 education institutions.
The trip will mark several developments between Irish and Chinese third-level institutes. The Minister will visit Peking University for the signing of a student exchange agreement between that University and Trinity College Dublin.
He will also attend the official launch of the Beijing-Dublin International College, an innovative joint campus of UCD and Beijing University of Technology. This new world-class institution will focus on three specific areas of academic activity: Science, Engineering and Technology; Business and Management; and Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
On Thursday, Minister Quinn will visit the China Agriculture University for the launch of the Science Foundation Ireland-supported International Strategic Collaboration Award (ISCA) programme. Under this programme, some €1 million is being made available this year for collaborative research and development work. It involves two key Irish partner institutions (UCD and NUI Maynooth, along with other partner Irish institutions) and multiple Chinese partner institutions and companies.
Speaking about the trip, the Minister said, "China is an important and growing partner in trade, education, food and agribusiness, investment and tourism.
"There are already strong educational and cultural ties between our two countries, with 125 education partnerships already established and vibrant immigrant communities in each country.
"I am delighted to contribute towards further developing these close and mutually beneficial links."