Ireland is one of the main destinations in Europe for international students, and the most expensive for those who are not European nationals.
College fees for these students go from 9,850 to 55,000 euro per year for undergraduate courses and 9,950 to 35,000 per year for a postgraduate programme. In other European countries like France and Italy prices start at 3,000 euro a year and Norway has the lowest fees, charging only 30 – 60 euros per semester to cover student union fees.
Despite the high universities’ fees, many students choose Ireland to complete their studies. For many years efforts have been made to attract and retain international students in Ireland, due to the significant contribution to the Irish economy that results from the International Education sector.
In a report from 2004, the minister of education stated that “the international education service is one of the fastest growing business sectors in the world”, in the same document it was reported that the estimated earnings from international third level students’ fees from 2001 to 2002 was about 120 million. A more recent report by the International Economic Consultants (INDECON) estimated that 386 million were generated by international students.
In 2021, the Minister of Higher Education said a strategy was to be launched to recover the income from international students after the pandemic, a new strategy to attract and retain more students, however, many international students face difficulties when they come to Ireland, and some of them are not able to complete their studies.
Alejandra is one of them. Alejandra came from Mexico to Ireland in 2019 to study English so she could then study a MSc in Strategy and Innovation in Maynooth University. She came from Mexico through an education agency. However, she says, things were difficult from the start.
In this interview, Alejandra shares her experiences as an international student living in Ireland.
For her safety, our interviewee’s identity has been hidden.