Figures recently released by language schools’ association Marketing English in Ireland (MEI), show that the sector’s total student enrolments for 2018 was just over 121,000 – slightly down on the previous year’s record-breaking total. However, students seem to be staying slightly longer on average – the total number of weeks stayed by students last year was an unprecedented 806,000 – five per cent up on 2018.
Three-quarters of students were from the European Economic Area, with 75 per cent of European students coming from Italy and Spain. Among those on courses for juniors, some 90 per cent are from within the EEA.
Just under 25,000 students came from non-EU countries that don’t need visas for short stays – Brazil being by far the biggest sending country, accounting for three-fifths of non-EU nationals.
After Brazil, the biggest “non-visa” sending countries were Japan and Mexico. Saudi Arabia, Russia and China were prominent among the relatively small proportion of students (8,783) from countries whose nationals require visas.
Marketing English in Ireland’s CEO David O’Grady noted that as Brexit nears, it presents “the opportunity for Ireland to become the number one destination in Europe to study English.”