A marked contrast with Britain

GOVERNMENT IMMIGRATION policy is blocking international students from coming to Ireland and contributing to the economy, the Lord Mayor of Dublin Emer Costello has said. She said the Government rejected almost 40 per cent of applications from Chinese students and nearly half of applications from Turkish students who wanted to study at Irish third-level institutions, even when they had been accepted for entry to courses.

Britain, in contrast, accepted 95 per cent of applications from Chinese students and 90 per cent of Turkish students, she said. “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.”

Speaking at the Lord Mayor’s welcome gathering for international students in the Mansion House, Ms Costello said international students were an important element in economic development and job creation. “International students from countries outside of the EU contribute over €500 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 billion annually from the same market.”

A 2004 Government report had identified the international education sector as one of the world’s faster growing business sectors and recognised the importance of this market for Ireland. However, she said this was in conflict with the immigration process which made it more difficult for students to enter Ireland than Britain.

DIT head of International Affairs Robert Flood told the gathering that every 100 students living in Dublin support 15 local jobs in phone companies, supermarkets, shops, restaurants and other services. “Between DIT and TCD alone that equates to 214 jobs and over €14 million to the local economy in Dublin city,” he said.