When deciding to enroll in Griffith College Dublin (GCD), a student may not expect to meet classmates from every corner of the world. Even founder Dirmuid Hegarty, who established the college back in 1974 couldn’t have expected this institution would be so multicultural. Griffith College Dublin is one of the most diversified colleges in the country, with students from at least 90 different nationalities occupying 40% space of the total 8,500 students, according to International Students Office Manager, Claire Cox. After 35 successful years, GCD is now Ireland’s biggest independent third level college.
“What happened in the UK with the college fees tripling might be one of the reasons International students have started diverting here. In addition, Ireland being the Silicon Valley of Europe headquartering global companies like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn might be another cause of attraction. Ireland also has a long tradition of being one of the friendliest countries in the world.” Cox gives credit to campus itself for being small and friendly and again the classes being small which helps students and staff to get to know almost everybody. “In addition, our campus is close to Dublin City Centre and has a nice accommodation service at Halls of Residence,” Cox adds.
According to the International Office, GCD started taking international students from mid-90s. Within two decades this phenomenon has grown and today around 15% of the total international students in Ireland study in GCD. Cox claims the number is growing every year, particularly with a 10% rise each year of European students. “This might be because of an impression developed from Celtic-Tiger era but on the other hand Dublin is getting renowned for cultural and young city with 65% people under 35 years of age”.
GCD now has students from every corner of the world. From Brazil to India, and China to America students choose to come here. Cox connects American’s interest in coming here for having cultural similarities. “For others another plus point is, we are English speaking country and Ireland has cheap flights. Many people also consider Ireland as a gateway to Europe.”
Hannes Stansberg, a Swedish national who is studying Business in 3rd year at Griffith says he had a plan to go to United States at first but once he came here he fell in love with GCD. “When I was visiting my friend here, I was convinced this was the right school for me. I am excited to see so many international students here and I am loving it.”
Griffith College has so many things to do for international students. It’s a rare case scenario for one to be bored or home sick after coming here. The Students Union organizes various trips, tournaments and gigs targeting international students. Cox says, “Students might be intimidated at first but once they become part of GCD, they become like family members. Students can enjoy their time at GCD in their own way too, for example Indian students love cricket and have a cricket team and we have other sports facilities along with a gym.”
Arvind Baudh, who is currently studying Msc. in International Business Management came to Griffith College because fees are cheaper here in comparison to other colleges. It’s one of the most reputed private colleges in Ireland and after all Ireland is an English speaking country. He further says, “It’s a great experience being here and it is very hard to find such cultural diversity anywhere”.
Cox says in her five years service at International Office, she has never spotted any case of bullying or racism. “The only case I know which is not even close to racism was little argument when an American and Chinese student were living together. That was because of hard time in sharing the kitchen since both of them came from totally different culture.”
International students who come for graduate and undergraduate courses must register full time and can work up to 20 hours during school time and 40 hours during summer legally. Each student is required to attend 80% of their classes in order to extend their visa. Irish Immigration Office charges 300 Euros each time a student extends their visa. Despite all these hassles, students are not reluctant to come to pursue their higher studies here. Each year numerous students from all around the world apply for Irish student visa in order to shape their future here but only few of them get to come here.
Of course incoming international students are contributing in generating economic benefits for both Griffith College and Ireland. On the other hand, the students representing various nationalities are creating a cultural heritage and multicultural diversity. After all, Griffith’s motivation in creating a global village is clear to see.