“Word of mouth is the biggest influence on how someone decides where to study,” explained Catherine McCluskey of Failte Ireland, the national tourism development authority. “If your teacher is telling you how wonderful Ireland is you’ll want to go there too.”
“If your teacher is telling you how wonderful Ireland is you’ll want to go there too”
The scheme, which is in its second year, also includes Turkey, South Korea and Japan with four scholarships available per country. Participants are covered for airfare, a month-long summer course, accommodation, living expenses and two weekly excursions to experience the history and culture of Ireland. In Japan, one of the scholarships has been designated specifically for a teacher from a school affected by the 2011 earthquake.
Two hundred applied for the scholarships last year but more are expected in 2012/13. “This year will be bigger because students from last year will tell others about it, we have glowing testimonials and pictures,” said McCluskey. “It really is a wonderful way to promote English in Ireland in those countries.”
The scheme, which is sponsored by Failte Ireland, Education in Ireland and the Department of Education, is being promoted through Irish consulates in emerging markets where visa applications are more readily approved. This year Ireland launched two pilot “trust agent” projects in Turkey and China to streamline visa processing in an effort to increase low student enrolments.
The Galway workshop brought together over 30 members with agents from all over the world
Of the 113 accredited English language schools in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, 55 belong to Marketing English in Ireland. The Galway workshop this week brought together over 30 members with agents from all over the world including from the country’s traditionally strongest markets: Spain, Italy, Germany and France.
Current figures show that in excess of 100,000 international students study in Ireland every year however industry players suspect the number is much higher. A survey involving the schools is underway to get more accurate statistic.