Ireland is still attracting international students

Aoibhín Meghen

The decline in international students attending Irish universities this year was not as drastic as previously expected according to a report from The Times.

Irish universities predicted a huge loss in revenue this academic year as they expected international students would choose not to study abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However despite strict travel restrictions remaining in place, DCU and other Irish universities did not suffer as badly as predicted.

2,291 international students registered for DCU so far this year and registration is not expected to be completed until 2021. This was only down 29 per cent from 2019. 

Similarly, University of Limerick and UCD registration is estimated to only be down 17 per cent according to The Times.

One university didn’t lose any international students this year. The Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) experienced an increase of international students for the 2020/21 academic year of four per cent compared to 2019.

“Our experience has been that students interested in taking up programmes were keen to commence and those already in programmes were committed to continuing,” RCSI told The Times.

As colleges remain predominantly online, some international students have chosen to continue their studies in Irish universities remotely.

Bradley Su is a final year journalism student from China, he returned home before Ireland went into lockdown in March. 

He decided to return to China because his “parents and friends were worried about the pandemic” and they had more experience with it as they had been in lockdown since February.

When universities reopened again in October, Su made the decision to stay in China and complete his course remotely.

There have been many barriers for international students during this pandemic. The closure of non-essential retail, bars and restaurants has left many students out of work. 

One in four of under-25s in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) are full time students.

A survey carried out by the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS) during the first lockdown found that many international students were concerned about keeping up with their rent during the Covid-19 pandemic.

One in five of the students surveyed had lost their jobs but were unable to access the pandemic unemployment payment leaving them without income.

Despite these challenges Irish universities are still seeing new international students coming to Ireland and current students are opting to continue their studies.

Aoibhín Meghen