More than 40 universities from around the world are moving to lure Irish students abroad to pursue their studies.
Third-level colleges from Europe, the US, Canada and Australia, as well as student recruitment agencies, will be represented at the Student World Fair, which is being held in University College Dublin on March 29.
Increasingly, universities in Europe are offering students the opportunity to study in English, which eliminates any language barrier.
A number of the colleges, notably in the Netherlands, feature among the top 100 in the UK-based ‘Times Higher Education’ university world rankings.
Similar fairs have been held in the UK for four years, but this is the first time the event is being staged in Ireland.
The drive by international universities to attract Irish students coincides with a surge in demand for college places in Ireland, with a record 73,091 applications to the CAO this year.
According to Guy Flouch of Eunicas, which helps students from Ireland and the UK to apply to European universities, the fair will add to the growing awareness and appetite among Irish students to travel overseas for a degree.
Mr Flouch noted Ireland was one of the few countries in Europe that had a growing number of school-leavers, creating huge pressure for college places.
Fees and living costs vary between countries, but students can take maintenance grants with them to Europe.
Mr Flouch said entry criteria for European colleges, including top-ranked universities, were normally much lower than in Ireland.
He said the UK and US had once been the favoured destinations for Irish school-leavers studying abroad but, in addition to higher numbers applying to US universities, there was a significant increase in applications to universities in Holland with growing interest in Denmark, Sweden and Germany.
“Two years ago we started to see students applying from fee-paying schools in Dublin but over the last year we have seen a changing demographic, with students from all types of schools and from all parts of the country,” Mr Flouch added. (Irish Independent)