90% of international students believe Irish Government should do more to attract students to study in Ireland according to SEDA College survey


  • 30% of international students say they have experienced some form of racial discrimination in Ireland
  • Despite this, 86% said they’d recommend Ireland to a friend from home as a destination to live or study while 90% said that they would recommend Ireland as a holiday destination
  • 86% say accommodation in Ireland is more expensive than their home country
  • 80% say their English has improved to the level expected during their stay – but they are often confused by the variety of Irish accents and the speed at which Irish people talk!

90% of international students studying English in Ireland believe the Irish government should offer more incentives to attract international students to the country, according to a new survey conducted by SEDA College, the fully accredited Dublin based educational institution that offers English language courses for all levels.

The survey was carried out to obtain insights into why international students choose Ireland as a destination to learn and what they really think about studying and living in Ireland. Operating since 2009, SEDA College has an annual enrolment of approximately 1,200 students from all over the world. This year the college welcomed pupils from over 40 different nationalities, including Brazil, Spain, Italy, Panama, Mexico, Argentina, South Korea, Malawi, Japan, Taiwan and South Africa.

The survey shows that the vast majority of international students (93%) don’t receive any funding from their own country to study abroad, so they have to pay their own way to travel to Ireland to study English. As a result, 90% said an incentive from the Irish government would make Ireland an even more attractive destination to study.

When asked what was the most important factor in choosing Ireland as a destination to learn English, the main reason is because they’ve had friends here in the past. The second most popular reason was due to Ireland’s close proximity to the UK and other European countries.

Asked if they would stay in Ireland if the Irish Government introduced an incentive to students to remain here after their studies, 66% said they would stay, 24% said they would consider it while 9% said they wouldn’t stay. 36% said they would like to return to live in Ireland at some stage in the future, while 22% have no ambition in returning to Ireland once their studies are complete.

A key issue for students travelling to Ireland is accommodation, with 45% of students encountering difficulty in finding somewhere to live during their stay in Ireland. Furthermore, 86% of students commented that accommodation in Ireland was more expensive than in their home country.

39% of all those surveyed said the cost of living was the main difference between Ireland and their home country. This was followed by the levels of Urban Development (26%) and higher job prospects in Ireland (18%).

Many of the results portray Ireland in an extremely positive light, with 76% saying they found Irish people to be pleasant, welcoming and friendly. However 15% say they had encountered some negativity from Irish people while only 8% said they did not feel welcomed at all. Overall, 30% said they had experienced some kind of racial discrimination during their studies in Ireland.

That said, the survey also showed high integration levels among international students and Irish people, with 68% saying they had developed friendships with Irish people during their studies, while 44% engaged in Irish sporting and cultural activities.

The Irish accent does cause some problems for international students, with 41% saying they found it difficult to understand the variety of different accents among Irish people, while 22% remarked on the speed with which Irish people speak. Perhaps most importantly, 80% felt that their level of English had improved to the standard that they had hoped for when they first joined SEDA College.

Despite uncertainty in the face of Brexit, the overwhelming majority of students (92%) still view Ireland as a great destination to study. 86% of participants said they’d recommend Ireland to a friend from home as a destination to live or study while a further 90% said that they would also recommend Ireland as a holiday destination to friends and family.

In the wake of Brexit, 60% of those surveyed believe their chances of travelling to the UK for work or education have been negatively impacted by Britain’s impending exit from the EU.

Paul Brown, Principal of SEDA College, says: “With students from 41 different countries enrolling in our language courses every year we are delighted to see that international students have such a positive view of Ireland. Word of mouth is key among international students, so it is very important to ensure that each and every student enjoys their stay here. This will help ensure that we have a strong pipeline of international students coming to Ireland in the coming months and years. As a result, we work hard to ensure that while they are here learning English, that they are also immersed in Irish culture and have opportunities to meet new people and learn more about the country they are living in.”

SEDA College is recognised and accredited by ACELS, the Irish quality body for language schools, and EAQUALS, the European quality body. These two quality marks ensure that international students choosing SEDA College can expect the highest standard of education.

Located on Capel Street in Dublin 1, the custom built venue has 19 classrooms, a library, study areas, an IT lab and dedicated student areas. Six different levels of English courses are offered at SEDA College, including Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and English for Business.