Student numbers increased from 107,129 in 2015 to 119,119 last year. There was significant growth in junior (under sixteen years old) students from the EU, which supplies approximately 78 per cent of all enrolments to English language schools in the country. Only 7 per cent of students came from countries that require a visa, such as China and Saudi Arabia.
Another area of growth for the Irish ELT sector is Latin America. In three years, the country has seen a 400 per cent increase in the number of students coming from Argentina, Colombia and Chile. The International Education Strategy for Ireland 2016–2020, published by the Ministry for Education, sets goals to target and develop new markets outside of the EU.
‘If we are to achieve the targets outlined in the government strategy 2016–2020 for ELT, then we need to devote energy and expertise to areas for growth, most of which lie in markets that are visa-requiring for Ireland,’ O’Grady added. The ELT industry is worth €762 million per year to the Irish economy.