Overseas students attending the University of Limerick this year will contribute €15 million to the regional economy, a study has found.
This is outside of the millions the university will take in directly in tuition fees.
The last year for which figures are available - 2010-2011 - saw 1,518 international students contribute over €4.6 million in tuition fees. These numbers included students from EU countries who are not subject to fees.
In the current academic year, the number of international students will climb above 2,200, a new peak. Fee income is also expected to rise as the Graduate Medical School at UL increases intake. Medical courses generally attract a higher proportion of international students and command higher fees.
Figures compiled for Education in Ireland show the 2,200 overseas students taking courses at UL this year will spend €15 million in the Mid-West.
“The benefit is spread across the Mid-West, with many international students visiting attractions in Kerry, Clare, Cork and Galway at the weekends. In addition, many students have parents and friends who will come and visit, so the real value of such students visiting may be as high as €20m,” said Josephine Page, head of the international education division at UL.
UL now has the largest Erasmus exchange programme of any university in the country, with 400 Irish students going abroad annually, as well as international students coming to study in Limerick. New figures show that of the international students planning to come to the UL this year, some 496 come from Europe on exchanges. A further 1,056 students have come to UL to study a full degree programme, either at undergraduate or postgraduate level; 150 are on exchange programmes from non-EU countries and more than 500 are US or Japanese visiting students. Students from more than 100 countries have visited the Mid-West in 2012.
“International students are warmly welcomed on campus and make great contributions to the internationalisation of the UL campus and our local area, which is one of the strategic goals of the university. These students bring an international dimension to the classroom, connecting our students to the rest of the world,” said Professor Paul McCutcheon, UL vice president academic and registrar.
In a recent international survey of students, UL was ranked the top Irish university in having the best overall living experience and placed fifth of 238 third level institutions around the world.