Choose Ireland for education was the message delivered during the recent International Education Week in New York City. A large crowd turned out to celebrate and promote the education links between Ireland and the United States at an event last Thursday evening hosted by the Education in Ireland group and the Irish Consulate.

According to Education in Ireland, the country has witnessed a 70 percent increase in American students studying in Ireland in the last seven years, making it a lucrative enterprise. More than 7,000 American students chose Ireland as their study abroad destination last year alone.

“Ireland has a history of excellence in the liberal arts,” said Michelle Dervan, U.S. manager for Education in Ireland.

“What makes us really unusual is that you have that history on one hand, and on the other we’re this emerging hub for technology and global companies and there are not many other countries that can offer that mix.”

Guests at the event heard from American students who shared their personal stories of studying in Ireland.

Anthony MacKenzie, a 16-year-old senior at Frederick Douglass High School in New York, told the gathered crowd about his time studying in the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM).


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Quoting Frederick Douglass, the Harlem resident told the assembled crowd, “If there is no struggle there is no progress,” before he regaled the crowd with tales of his time studying in Ireland and learning about the skills involved in playing hurling.

Andrea Laidman also pursued her postgraduate study in NUIM. A Notre Dame alum, she told the crowd about her enriching experience of studying in Ireland, despite not having any Irish lineage.

Her time studying anthropology and international development in NUIM allowed her to connect with Irish people while also embracing the benefits of a world class education system.

Dervan, who heads Education in Ireland’s office in New York, says there is a big push from the current Irish government to pitch Ireland as a destination for schooling.

“The targets that were set down in the strategy are quite ambitious,” she says, adding that there are hopes to increase the number of full-time international students in Ireland by 50% in the lead up to 2015.

“All of the Irish universities have representatives that are active here,” Dervan said.

Considering the high cost of education in the U.S., studying abroad can be a more cost effective option for some students.

“Ireland isn’t necessarily cheaper for all students, but if you’re the type of student who’s looking to go out of state and looking at going to a private college in the U.S., you can save up to $20,000 a year by studying in Ireland; that would be for a full time degree,” said Dervan.