June 12th 2017
Press Release

Irish Chamber of Commerce (Singapore) to launch A survey analysis into the reasons for Irish expatriate children matriculating into Irish higher education institutions

To read full report: University Education Survey report May 2017


Mr. Conor McCoole and Mr. Alan Stone of the Irish Chamber of Commerce (Singapore) launch a report by Trinity College economist Charles Larkin and University of Toronto economic geographer Qiantao Zhang into the reasons for the children of Irish expatriates to attend or not attend university in Ireland. The main findings:

  • Irish parents in Asia have mixed views about the desirability of sending their children return to Ireland for higher education with only 40% interested in having their attend Irish universities.
  • University quality is very important to parents; university rankings and personal perceptions influence this assessment.
  • Cost is not the main issue as Irish expatriates expect to pay international university fees.
  • Though Irish expatriates are happy to pay fees, they seek value for money, which they perceive as an issue in the Irish university system.
  • Irish expatriates feel cut off from “Official Ireland” because in most cases they are treated as non-EU internationals with respect to higher education.

We recommend the following policy actions:

  • Incorporate into the Higher Education (Reform) Bill and Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Amendment) Bill (both currently at heads of bill stage) provisions to ensure the special status for first generation diaspora children within the Irish higher education system which either puts them in the same category as EU Citizens, or in a newly created special category. Diaspora groups should lobby the Education and Skills Committee to make a presentation to Oireachtas members.
  • Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) should publish equivalency tables for A-Level and International Baccalaureate secondary school qualifications. A-Level equivalency tables should be re-evaluated to be less UK/Northern Ireland-centric and have a more global orientation, reflecting the importance of alternative qualifications.
  • Irish universities should collectively act in major Asian cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore to recruit students, develop relationships with schools, and improve communication with Irish Expatriates. The Irish Universities Association can be part of that process.
  • Irish universities need to find a solution with the Higher Education Authority to employment control limitations imposed by the Department of Public Expenditure to expand academic staff numbers and reduce the staff-student ratio, which is currently undermining Ireland’s international rankings.

At the launch Mr. McCoole said:

“The aim of this study was to gain an insight into the attitudes of the Irish diaspora towards sending their children to Irish higher education institutions and to formulate policy suggestions for Irish universities and policymakers.

The study is the first of its kind and we hope it will encourage a debate among the Irish public, the diaspora, policymakers and Irish universities about the opportunities and benefits of attracting Irish diaspora children to attend Irish universities as international students.”

The study was funded by the Irish Chamber of Commerce (Singapore) with assistance from private donors and the Irish Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong.

To read on: University Education Survey report May 2017

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Contact details:

Mr. Conor McCoole (Singapore)
Mr. Alan Stone (Singapore)
Email: ed@irishchamber.com.sg


Dr. Charles Larkin (Dublin) Email: larkincj@tcd.ie Telephone: +353-(0)87-975-6985

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