The New York launch of “The Irish Universities: Connecting Continents” took place at the Irish Consulate on Thursday, January 21.

A delegation representing the seven universities in the Republic of Ireland was in the U.S. last week strengthening ties and creating new relationships with universities here.

The delegation included two university presidents, John Hughes from National University of Ireland, Maynooth, and Michael Murphy of University College Cork.

The campaign is built on the long-standing interest of U.S. academics and students in Irish history, culture and literature, and aims to broaden the network of research partnerships shared by institutions of higher learning in both countries.  It is also designed to draw new waves of U.S. students to Ireland for undergraduate and graduate studies.

Last week’s campaign was led by Education Ireland and is dedicated to developing and promoting Ireland as an educational hub of excellence.  Education Ireland is managed by Enterprise Ireland, the government agency responsible for the development and promotion of Irish business.  

Terry McParland, manager of international education services with Enterprise Ireland told the Irish Voice, “Ireland has a long-standing reputation as a center of excellence for education, and that alone makes people interested.”

McParland said that aside from its reputation, international students are drawn to Ireland because it’s English speaking, it has a youthful population (36% of the population are under the age of 25), it has a rich Irish heritage, and the education in Ireland is cost effective.

“For about roughly $30,000 a student could attend college in Ireland for a year everything included like tuition fees, accommodation, food, transport, books and health care,” he said.  

Another advantage of American students studying in Ireland, said McParland, is the opportunity to meet other international students from all over the world.

“Ireland is popular for students from countries right across the world,” he added.
Last week’s visit was the first step in getting the campaign off the ground.

“This is also just the start of Enterprise Ireland working with the universities in this market,” said McParland.

“The universities have been doing their own thing for quite some time, but we thought if we got behind it and really gave it a push at a national level under the Education Ireland brand that we would brand it and benefit everyone,” he said.

Irish universities are now twined with U.S. educational institutions in almost every state across the country, thus making the U.S. Ireland’s top academic partner.
At the moment there are approximately 30,000 international students in Ireland. More than 6,800 U.S. students selected Ireland for their study abroad experience, a 20% increase over the previous year.  

Among the full-time U.S. students, nearly 50% are liberal arts majors pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees at an affordable cost.  

Enda Carroll, manager of the center for study abroad at the University College Dublin (which have approximately 200 students from the U.S.) told the Irish Voice the trip was also “to encourage exchange programs where Irish students can come to the U.S. and study here.”

McParland said the campaign hopes to follow up from last week’s visit by staging educational fairs in the U.S. aimed at school leavers. They also plan to invite college counselors to visit Ireland to see for themselves first hand what’s on offer.  

McParland also added that the Irish Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe is “fully behind these initiatives and intends to visit the U.S. at an appropriate time later in the year.”

The other launch took place in Washington earlier in the week. Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Collins, hosted the event.

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