An extra €14m tourist income is spent each year by visitors to students here on an EU study programme.
The Erasmus+ scheme brings 7,200 students to study or work in Ireland annually, including over 2,000 who take part in internships. The figure has risen by 60% in the last seven years from 4,500 in 2007/08, with stays ranging from two months to a year.
However, a survey of incoming students for the Higher Education Authority HEA), which manages the Erasmus+ programme in Ireland, reveals economic benefits beyond the spend of the students themselves.
It found that 80% of them receive at least one visitor, with the average student having at least four, staying three to 15 days.
Based on the average visitor’s stay of a week, the HEA has used Fáilte Ireland estimates of tourists spending €540 each per week to value those visits at €14m.
“The findings reveal an often-overlooked benefit to the wider economy of Ireland’s participation in Erasmus+,” said Gerry O’Sullivan, HEA’s head of international education.
“International education partnerships of this type drive tourism numbers, the benefits of which are felt nationwide.”
Just over a third of Erasmus+ students go to Dublin, a third go to Munster colleges or workplaces, followed by the rest of Leinster (18%), and Connacht/ Ulster (12%).
Dublin was their visitors’ top destination, followed by Galway, Cork, Kerry, Kilkenny, Limerick, Belfast, and Derry.
Nearly 80% of these visitors come from five countries, with French tourists 38% of the total, followed by Germans (17%), Spanish (12%), Italians (8%), and Dutch (4%).
From 2007 to 2013, 30,000 Irish students travelled to another European country as Erasmus+ participants, including nearly 4,400 in 2012-2013. The number of Irish students taking part is projected to rise to 50,000 from 2014 to 2020.
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