The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Emer Costello, said that the Irish Government's immigration policy is blocking foreign students from attending college in Ireland.

Speaking at the international student gathering at Mansion House in Dublin, the Mayor said that over 40 per cent of applications from Chinese students are refused and 50 per cent of Turkish applications are turned down.

Britain currently approves over 95 per cent of Chinese applications and 90 per cent of all Turkish applicants. The vast majority of applicants were accepted by Irish colleges before the Irish government refused their student visas.

“While vigilance at our borders and entry points is essential, we should be able to develop a rational way of welcoming international students who have been accepted for entry into university and higher education courses,” said Mayor Costello.

Most Irish colleges encourage applications from outside the European Union (EU). They are highly sought after as they pay massive student fees and are used by colleges to plug gaps in their annual budgets.

 “International students from countries outside of the EU contribute over €500 ($732) million annually to the Irish economy. It’s a growing and important market, and Dublin needs to get its share. Melbourne, a similar-sized city to Dublin, earns over €2 ($2.9) billion annually from the same market,” continued Costello.

In 2004, a government report highlighted the international education sector as one of the fastest growing business sectors in the world. The report also said that Ireland had established a firm base and played an important role in the sector.

The Mayor said that the immigration process was making it more difficult for students to enter Ireland. It is believed that 15 jobs are supported for every 100 foreign students in Dublin.

The Mayor said that between the Dublin Institute of Technology and Trinity College in Dublin, international students support over 214 jobs and contribute more than $20 ($29.3) million to the local economy.