MEP sends wrong signal on foreign students

WHILE Séan Kelly MEP (Letters, October 18) is encouraging Irish higher education institutions to open their doors to international students, it is regrettable that his contribution sends out the wrong message.

Presenting international students as economic units whose fees might help to avert the introduction of fees for Irish students is hardly helpful in terms of attracting students to Ireland. We need a more balanced discussion.

International students do generate income but they also enrich us with their energy, diversity and new ideas and they represent an investment in our future. We cannot offer a high-quality educational experience to any student, least of all our own students, unless we internationalise.

Let’s keep the focus on educational quality and student wellbeing. This is the only way Ireland can have a sustainable future in international education. I note Mr Kelly’s letter offered Áine Ní Chonaill of the Immigrant Control Platform (Letters, November 3) the opportunity to make a number of ill-informed comments about international students.

Ms Ní Chonaill should research the published facts before she offers her inaccurate soundbites the next time.

She could start her reading with the report of the High Level Group on International Education to the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, ‘Investing in Global Relationships — Ireland’s International Education Strategy 2010-2015’, which references many reports and studies that underline the benefits of opening up our education services. In fairness to Séan Kelly and his party, Fine Gael has also produced a comprehensive policy document, ‘International Horizons’, which suggests Ireland has not nearly reached its potential as a quality destination for international students.

Sheila Power,

Director,

Irish Council for International Students,

Morehampton Road,

Dublin 4

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