07 October, 2016 - Minister Bruton Launches International Education Strategy

37,000 Additional International Higher Education and English Language Training (ELT) Students Targeted as key action delivered from Action Plan for Education

Plan to Increase Value of International Education Sector by 33% to €2.1billion by 2020

Minister Richard Bruton has today (Friday 7th October) launched the International Education Strategy.  

This Plan represents a key element of Ireland’s growth strategy for the next five years, and an important action as part of the Action Plan for Education. It aims to increase the economic value of this sector grow to €2.1bn per annum by 2020, a 33% increase. This will involve over 37,000 additional international Higher Education and English Language Training Students coming to Ireland. This will bring the total number of International Higher Education and ELT students in Ireland to over 176,000.

Funding under this strategy will be directed at promotional and marketing campaigns in key target markets such as the US, China, India, Brazil, Malaysia and the Gulf Region, while we will be increasing our focus on high potential market opportunities in countries such as Canada, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Nigeria.

Through the implementation of the International Education Strategy we will-

  • Increase the number of international students studying in Ireland
  • Attract outstanding researchers to our institutions and to build research capacity and commercialisation of research
  • Build world class networks of learning and innovation that can attract funding from outside the Irish education system
  • Equip Irish learners with the skills and experience to compete internationally
  • Have more Irish students integrate overseas experience into their study through maximising mobility opportunities for all
  • Connect the benefits gained from internationalisation in education with enterprises to support the achievement of national economic ambitions
  • Enhance our international alumni networks to build global connections for greater social and economic outcomes for Ireland at home and abroad

Significant consultation was carried out which went into this strategy, including a public consultation, the holding of a number of international student forums, and a heads of mission forum.

The Publication of the International Education Strategy is a key action in the Action Plan for Education. A High Level Project Delivery Group, which will be led by a senior official of the Department, will be established to oversee the implementation of this strategy. 

Speaking at the launch, Minister Bruton said:

“Our basic aim as a Government is to use our economic success to make life a little better for people. That is why we have published our Action Plan for Education aimed at delivering the best education system in Europe. International education has a key role to play in this, and by attracting more international students we can bring significant investment into our education system and more employment into our economy."

“As a small, open trading economy we must continue to diversify our economy. International students, once they graduate, have a very strong role to play in helping Irish exporting companies to internationalise further and reach new markets through their links to their home countries.”

“There will be strong opportunities for Ireland in the area of international education when Ireland becomes the only English speaking member of the EU. Through the implementation of our Plan we will increase the number of international Higher Education students and English language students coming to Ireland by over 37,000 by 2020, which will increase the value of the sector to €2.1 Billion by 2020.”

“Our Plan will also help to attract talent from around the world to our education institutions, equipping Irish learners with the skills and experience they need to compete internationally, to engage in world-class research and international collaborations, and to address global challenges.”

Minister Bruton concluded by thanking the High-Level Group on International Education for their time and effort, saying: “I look forward to working with all of our partners to ensure that International Education in Ireland is a continued success.”


Note for editors:

International education is currently worth €1.58 billion to the Irish economy, outperforming the very challenging target of €1.2 billion that was set in the last strategy. Of this €1.58 billion, the higher education sector contributed some €819 million and the English Language Training sector contributed €762 million.

The Strategy identifies four strategic priorities:

  • A Supportive National Framework– International education policy and actions will be aligned with other relevant Government Strategies. There will be a more cohesive approach to the recruitment of international scholars and researchers. High performing students will be incentivised to remain on after their studies through the immigration system. 
  • Internationally-oriented, Globally Competitive Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)– Targets for increased numbers of international students have been set. Individual HEIs will all develop their own internationalisation plans to play to their own unique strengths in developing international market opportunities and the cluster approach will be promoted in support of best outcomes. Examine the introduction of a fund to encourage the mobility of academic staff. 
  • Sustainable Growth in the English Language Training (ELT) Sector –The ELT sector will be supported in international markets through access to the proposed International Education Mark and Enterprise Ireland will take a lead role in international markets in the promotion of the adult non-EU ELT sector.
  • Succeeding Abroad– Additional high potential market opportunities for international education will be explored, allowing for greater diversification from the current approach of a limited priority market focus.  The visibility of the Education Ireland brand will be strengthened and alumni engagement maximised to support the recruitment of international students and to enhance academic and research co-operation.

Growth targets –

A growth target of 33% in the Higher Education sector will result in an increase in international students in both public and private HEIs from 33,118 in 2014/2015 to approximately 44,000 by the end of the 2019/2020 academic year. In terms of the target output value for HE, the aim is to increase the output impact value from €819m in 2014/2015 to €1.15bn by 2019/2020.

A growth target of 25% in the ELT sector will result in an increase in ELT students from 106,000 in 2014/2015 to 132,500 by the end of 2019/2020 academic year. The aim is to increase the output value by approximately €200m from €760m to €960m.

In terms of the target output impact value, the value will increase from €1.58bn in 2014/2015 to €2.1bn by 2019/2020.

See the full report here: