He will support Education in Ireland, the country’s international education promotion body, in tapping the huge Indian overseas student market through a range of marketing initiatives. Around 150,000 Indians study abroad each year but only 1,000 choose Ireland.
O’Brien said: “Ireland’s worldwide reputation for high quality education is built on the solid foundation of commitment to excellence. Ireland is a great place for young Indian students to live and study. It is an honour and privilege for me to bat for Ireland’s international education offering in India.”
The cricketer has already joined an Education in Ireland mission to India, accompanying seven Irish colleges last week to education fairs in Delhi, Chennai and Pune where he took part in one-to-one meetings with students. He will continue to participate in fairs, as well as trusted agents’ workshops and press briefings.
The appointment is part of ongoing Irish efforts to boost the number of international students in higher education by 100% to 52,000, and English language students from 100,000 to 125,000 by 2015.
Marina Donohoe, head of education at Enterprise Ireland (which manages the Education in Ireland brand) said : “The nature of Ireland’s knowledge intensive export economy makes Ireland a perfect fit for Indian students seeking to gain internationally recognised qualifications in dynamic growth sectors including ICT and life sciences.
“Indian students can make a significant contribution to the intellectual and cultural wealth of campus life, while benefiting from a world class education in an English-speaking country renowned for its friendliness and safety. Ireland’s high calibre educational institutions are keen to encourage more bright young Indian students to study here.”