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Ireland extends ‘stay back option’ for postgraduates

In a move that will undoubtedly shore up Ireland’s positioning in the international education market and make the country more attractive to overseas students, the Irish government has agreed to allow international postgraduates to stay two years after finishing their degree.

The policy extends the Third Level Graduate Scheme for non-EU/EEA residents studying in the country to remain in Ireland to seek employment and apply for a Green Card or Work Permit after two years.

The new extension means that the ‘stay back option’ for students at level 9 or 10 of the Irish National Framework of Qualifications has now doubled from 12 to 24 months. Specifically, this will apply to those studying for a master’s degree, postgraduate diploma, doctoral degree or higher doctorate.

“It will reinforce Ireland in the minds of international students as a welcoming destination”

In a statement on the Education in Ireland website, the government said the move will “allow eligible graduates who have studied in Irish higher education institutions and whose award is granted by a recognised Irish awarding body at master’s or PhD level to remain in Ireland for two years to seek employment.”

The move has been anticipated since the launch of the International Education Strategy last year which, among other goals, promised to boost the revenue from international education from €1.5bn to €2.1bn by 2020 and set a 15% target for international students at tertiary level as well as a goal of 25% growth for ELT enrolments.

Some industry stakeholders were cautious in their response to the news, wanting to see more detail.

However, Sinéad Ryan, director of internationalisation at the office of the vice-president for global relations and Trinity College Dublin said: “We very much welcome this announcement, which follows on the commitment in the Government’s new international education strategy published last October.

It will reinforce Ireland in the minds of international students as a welcoming destination for world-class education, research and career opportunities.”

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