Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan led a 5-day Enterprise Ireland ‘Education in Ireland’ mission to China last week.
Fifteen Irish Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) participated on the mission which included engagements in Beijing, Wuhan and Fuzhou. The main opportunity to promote Ireland as a destination for study abroad was the week-long China Education Expo where Enterprise Ireland will hosted 11 Irish participating HEIs on a dedicated Irish pavilion.
The most significant announcement during the mission was the inauguration of the Maynooth International Engineering College at Fuzhou University (FZU). The Maynooth International Engineering College is only the 2nd Sino-Irish joint university offering undergraduate level courses. FZU has undertaken to provide around 300 students per year for the four STEM based programmes offered in 2019. The first student intake will be in September and the graduates will be awarded with degrees from both Fuzhou and Maynooth University.
On Friday, Minister Halligan addressed the China Annual Education Conference on the theme of Education Modernisation: Practice and Exploration. He then met with the President of the China Education Association for International Exchange and the China Service Centre for Scholarly Exchange to promote Ireland as a high quality, safe and career enhancing destination for Chinese students to study at third level.
Four Chinese Universities signed Memorandums of Understanding with Irish HEIs, witnessed by Minister Halligan at the Embassy of Ireland in Beijing. The Minister also attended the opening ceremony of a joint graphic design programme by Athlone Institute of Technology and Jianghan University. Over 50% of the Chinese students studying in Ireland come as a direct result of this type of institutional cooperation.
Speaking prior to his departure Minister Halligan said, "I am delighted to be able to support the work that our higher education institutions are engaged in internationally. We need to broaden and deepen these types of institutional relationships, China is and will only become more important into the future. This mission is part of the Department of Education and Skills’ International Education strategy, a component of which is to substantially increase the numbers of international students at higher level, by 33%, from 33,000 to 44,000 by 2020."