Foreign student numbers 'to double'
Ambitious plans to double Ireland's intake of international students to boost the economy have been revealed.
More than 96,000 overseas students attended the 112 English language schools last year, while 26,000 international students were in third level education around the country.
It is estimated they generated 900 million euro in revenue for the Irish economy, and Failte Ireland and Education in Ireland launched separate programmes to promote the island as the top English language destination.
Fionnan Nestor, of Failte Ireland, said: "Spending on average approximately 400 euro each per week, English language students represent a lucrative market with some staying up to 20 weeks and more in Ireland. These students are the future tourists of Ireland and therefore offer a real opportunity to increase visitor numbers in the years to come."
The tourist body is investing 200,000 euro in the marketing and development of the sector. Ireland is one of only three English language learning destinations, along with the UK and Malta.
Failte Ireland research shows while seven out of ten language schools students come from mainland Europe - predominately France, Spain and Italy-there was an 80% increase in numbers from South America and the Middle East/Africa last year.
Meanwhile Education in Ireland - the new umbrella brand for marketing the Irish higher education and the English language sectors internationally - aims to double the student numbers coming to Ireland by 2015.
Under the tagline 'World-class Standards, Warmest of Welcomes', the Enterprise Ireland initiative will promote Irish education across China, India, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and the USA.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said: "Ireland's education sector has many intrinsic strengths which give real, lasting value to our international students and that give us a competitive advantage in the international education market. But our success depends on the quality of our offer and our ability to tell our story internationally.
"The new brand is more than a logo. It represents our vision of Ireland as an internationally recognised world leader in the delivery of high-quality international education."