Hi everyone we're excited to introduce you to study abroad Insight series
Ireland, where we'll have a set of experts to answer all your queries about
Ireland and the Irish culture. Ireland is a country that can offer you the safest
environment to study, learn make a career and experience a great lifestyle
I'm your host Amit Chaturvedi and on behalf of IDP education, I welcome you to
study abroad insight series. Keep watching this space for more and do log
in to our social media platforms
Hello and welcome to another episode of study abroad insight series. Today we are
talking about education opportunities in Ireland and I have a very special guest
with me, Meenakshi Batra. She's been the director of University College, Cork and
with an extensive experience of meeting, talking to students, explaining them
opportunities to study in Ireland. I am sure this is going to be a fantastic
discussion to tell our audience a lot more about what they can do, when they
land into Ireland or a lot more to hear from Meenakshi. So thank you Meenakshi
very much for joining us this afternoon.
Thank You Amit, thanks for having me over
So let me just start by asking you what's been your role over the years and
how you have seen this market evolve and grow?
So well very frankly I've been into
business development literally all my life and it's only when I joined and
started working with the Irish government and then with the University
College Cork that I really started focusing on students and realised
what a huge industry and you know the number of students that actually travel
abroad for studies and that there is such a need for good universities and
good options for students.
Great and before we kind of get into more specific
questions for students, tell me something just two or three things very unique about UCC?
Well the thing that struck me most about UCC is the fact that it's the
leading research university in Ireland. So UCC has you know more than 20
research centres in different areas and they are among the top five in the world
So that was one thing that really struck me and the other thing is that you know
I used to work with the investment development agency of the government of
Ireland and we would always showcase the incubation centres that UCC has. So
they actually have four levels of incubation centers, some of the best
in in Ireland, so that was another thing that struck me and the third thing that
I would say is the faculty student interface. It's a very very close connect
that the faculty have for their students.
Given that there are plenty of choices
for students to study abroad, why do you think a student would choose Ireland?
Well I think what very few people know is that Ireland even
though it's a tiny little country, it punches well above its weight. So it's
the second Silicon Valley after the United States. 95% of all aircrafts are
leased and financed out of Ireland which very few people know. 15 of the top
pharma companies have their research and development and manufacturing in Ireland
as do the top 17 medical devices companies and then you have the
financial services sector which is really growing you know and a lot of
financial services companies have come out of the UK now with the Brexit
happening and are moving into Ireland, so there's a very very vibrant industrial
scene and the population of Ireland is just not enough to sustain the demand
for talent that these companies have and I think that's the biggest reason why
students should look at Ireland.
What is that if there is any particular exam or an
entry criteria, of course will come into subjects and all later but are students
required to give an exam to get into a Irish institution?
We only look at the
final exam that they have already done so for example if you're looking at
undergraduate, we are looking at their 12 standard marks and this is across
Ireland and if they are looking at postgraduate courses and we are looking
at their undergraduate degree and we need an English language test so that's
that's about it. So we are not looking at any other exam.
You have been you know, meeting students, talking to them, explaining them what is that you as
an expert look into a student who is suitable for a role or for a program or
what is that you look into an application when you are shortlisting or
going to get them an initial offer?
So we really look at academics, for us
academics is very important. So if the student has a good CGPA or a very good
percentage in 12 standard, then we know that that's perfectly suited for us and
and as I mentioned you know the English language because the
education is in English, so we we need that our students have a certain level
of English so that they can understand what's being
taught so that's about the the thing that we look at. Once you're there in the
university you know then a lot of extracurricular activities will come
into play you know and that determines your progress and the university in the
future years. But initially for admissions, we are really looking at academics
Okay so when we talk of academics, it is the scores of various
boards and all so any top-five documents which you would like to suggest to our students?
What they need for the application, so they're really looking at
their last mark sheet. We are looking at their English language score, the
passport copies, 2 LOR's, CV and in some cases we might even require an SOP
but these are really the basic few documents that are necessary.
Since you spoke about SOP and I know it's critical for in a students evaluation, any kind of
recommendation you want to make to students to be conscious, careful about
doing their own SOP?
Well I think what the program directors and what the
admission team is looking at in an SOP is really the passion that the child has
for the subject that he has chosen and for the university that has he done a
little bit of research or is it just something from the top of your hat you
know. So if the student has done his research and has found that yes this is
the university that suits me and you know and he demonstrates that in his SOP
that's something that will really click with the admissions team.
So does any past experience, work experience or anything extra curricular helps a student
to get shortlisted for a program?
Well the work experience definitely does so
in case the students percentage is on the borderline, then the work experience
will definitely help even otherwise you know the work experience always bumps up
your academic score. Extra curricular activities at the point of admission may
not be really relevant, where Ireland is concerned but as I said that once you're
there in the university it really counts and you know extracurricular
activities always help in building your personality and I think that makes a big difference.
We spoke about the work experience you
think it is critical to all programs which students are applying or it is restricted to a few?
It is restricted to a few you know in fact we don't really
ask for work experience as I said it will it'll help the student if they have
it but it's not mandatory and there are certain programs where you don't need it
at all you know like some of the science programs, in biotechnology you don't
expect a student to have had any experience in biotechnology and that's a
subject that a student is pursuing only because they are passionate about it, so
so no not for all programs.
You have been meeting talking to students for these
years, in your opinion which are the top few programs which Indian students are
very keen to pursue in Ireland?
So well the the top few programs are computer
science, data science and analytics and a few years back we introduced a program
called business information and analytic systems which is marrying data science
and business together and that has become very popular. Engineering has
always been biosciences, biotechnology but those three I would say would be the top programs
So tell me Meenakshi in terms of English
language assessment tests, what tests are acceptable to Irish institutions?
We accept all so whether it be IELTS, TOEFL, CPE, the Cambridge one or Pearson, we accept all
And what are the primary intakes for Irish institutions, are there
only one intake or multiple intakes?
So some universities will have
two intakes like a September and a January intake but all universities have
September and I think most of them have only a September intake but there are a
few universities that do take a January intake and where research programs are
concerned so either if you're doing an M res or a PhD, then you do have more than
one intake it could be two or even four intakes in a year for research.
And what's the typical duration of an undergraduate and a postgraduate program
or varies like some of the destinations where undergrad is three years and four years as well?
All of Ireland has four years, all the Irish universities the undergraduate
programs are four years and master's is one year. There are a few courses in
humanities where you might find a three year program for undergraduate and some
masters which might be two years or one-and-a-half year but they're very few
I mean if it's speaking in general then master's is one year and undergraduate is four years
And these days we all understand the value of the
accreditations so typical Irish institutions are all accredited or as a
just few of them and what are these accreditations?
So typically most Irish
universities would be accredited and then in some universities, some of the
programs are accredited and these accreditations are either from a
professional body or from a statutory body or even regarding exemptions for
certain programs like if you do finance, then you can get an exemption from a CFA
or you know you're credited with the CFA so further professional exams you could
be exempt from.
One thing which all students would like to understand and
especially those who aspire to study abroad is the cost associated studying
abroad and if we look at all the destinations first ones are generally
interested in compared to that where do you think Ireland stands?
I think Ireland would, Ireland is definitely cheaper than the United States if you're not taking
into account some of the scholarships that are offered but overall we are you
know very very cost effective where United States is concerned. Ireland would be at
par with some of the UK universities but it depends you know we might be a little
bit a little bit more expensive than some of the UK universities and a little
bit slightly less than some of them but we are more or less the same as far as
UK is concerned.
So tell me something what's the average tuition fee for our
undergraduate and a postgraduate program?
So more or less it's the same some of
the humanities normally are the cost as much in the tuition fees as cheaper but
if you're looking at a range, I would say that anywhere from 12 to 24
25,000 euros is what you're looking at you know depending on whether it's a
science program involving the laboratory work or whether it's business program or
humanities. Medicine of course is the most expensive so that ranges from 39 to
45,000 euros per annum.
Since we're talking about a bit of money aspect
scholarships play a role and every student is very interested to know
whether they're eligible for a scholarship and kind of thing so what
are typical scholarships offered by Irish institutions?
So Irish institutions
offer very good scholarships so you would have and they're very transparent
and they are based on merit and since we are looking at the academic score of the
student, so normally my experience says that when the student gets the offer
letter, the scholarship is mentioned in the offer letter so you don't have to
apply especially for that. There would be certain scholarships which would be
applied for, which would be higher like might give you a 50% off and there might
be limited in number and then we also have the Irish government scholarships
which are few, which are hundred percent and they are meant for you know the
Irish government kind of tells which country they are applicable for and
which subject and so we don't really talk about those because they are
informed a little later but we do have them.
And as an expert on Irish education
what should a student be considering while applying for a scholarship to
ensure that they get a scholarship?
Well as I said at the time of admission it's
really the academics and unless you're applying for like I said the 50% the
higher scholarships in which you have to demonstrate why the university should
consider you particularly for scholarship. So that would mean that
you're a student which needs the funding that you're a bright student and you
have a passion for that subject but you are short in funding
you know I mean if you're a very wealthy person then you're not really qualify to
get a scholarship. So you have to demonstrate a few things but as far as
the other scholarships the standard scholarships are concerned a student
really doesn't have to apply for it, you know it comes in your offer letter as I
said it's very transparent and automatic.
So tell me something about the interest
of Indian students which are the key cities, the students are focused at?
So I think normally most students think of Dublin when they think of Ireland they
think of Dublin which is a capital city and that's understandable but and we
have a majority of our institutions are in Dublin but I think when I look at the
spread of Indian students, they are all over Ireland and Ireland as you know is
a small country so the traveling is very easy and very convenient and so I think
students should focus not really on the cities but they should focus on the
program that they are looking at and which university is offering the best
program for their needs.
Another thing which is most people want to understand
is the weather. So I know it's different but how different really it is from our
systems in India, our weather in India and the Irish weather?
Well it is quite
different. It can be much colder than what we are used to. In Delhi we used to
have a very good winter which used to help students a lot but now we are not
having that winter any longer however the you know the summer would be like
the Delhi winter, so in in the summer you can expect temperatures like going up to
a maximum of 25 28. The winters can be dark and gloomy. It rains quite a bit,
it's like UK so you can have 4 seasons in one day so you have to be always
prepared for the rain. But when the Sun is out it's absolutely glorious, you have
these beautiful blue skies and the emerald green of Ireland is really nice.
So it's as I said you see many climates in a short span of time but you
also get used to it. I've spoken to a lot of Indian students who have been living
there and and I personally don't like the cold myself but they tell me that
you know we get used to it fast, so.
How easy it is for an Indian
student who's travelling for the first time possibly to settle into any Irish city
and is the food okay or it's easily available, getting along with people,
the support from the institution, so tell us a little more about that?
So I'm glad you asked this question on it because this is a point on which I would like to
really stress that Ireland is one of the friendliest countries in the world. Cork
has actually been rated as the friendliest city in the world by Lonely
Planet and all of Ireland and all the Irish people are extremely welcoming and
very friendly and it's it's very easy I find I find the Irish telling me that
they find it very easy to mingle and adapt with the Indian students and the
Indians tell me the same thing you know and whether it's business, whether it's
businessmen or students, they say it's very easy to you know really adapt
yourself to Ireland and mix up with the Irish, very friendly people really.
It'll be easy for students to get into Ireland and get accustomed to the culture and
they place easily?
Absolutely, absolutely they are very family focused, so are we.
They have a stress on education, so do we. Indian food is available as all of
Europe, we Indians will always find European food a little bland
but Indian food is very popular so you have a lot of Indian restaurants, you
have shops that sell Indian groceries and Indian stuff, so one of my tips to
the Indian students would be to please learn a little cooking, you tend to save
money and you know you get your own Indian flavors. So it's very comfortable.
You've been to the campus many times in various Irish universities, how
vibrant is the culture in the university campus?
Well it's it's really
very vibrant because Ireland attracts a lot of international students, so we have
people from all over the world and you know so you have lots of clubs and
societies and then everything is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm. I
can give you the example of University College Cork, you know where the Indian
society is one of the most popular societies that we have
and every student of every nationality wants to be a member, not just Indians
you know and they celebrate every Indian festival on campus and in the city, so
I think culturally it's it's very very vibrant all, all across Ireland.
Another thing which students would like to understand is when they come into a new
country, a new campus, do they get to live within the campus or they have to find
an accommodation near the campus and how do they commute them?
So I'll be very frank that we have been having a bit of a crunch where accommodation is
concerned but that's not to say that students don't find accommodation. I
think across all the universities in Ireland, we do all of them have on campus
accommodation and we have off campus as well, a dedicated completely for students
But the on campus accommodation we normally try and reserve it for our
undergraduate students. They are younger and they need a little bit more taking
care of but but then we have you know on campus, off campus, we have private
accommodation which is dedicated for students and then we also encourage you
know apartment sharing by students which sometimes works out a little cheaper and
also home stays, you can actually stay in an Irish home and you know stay with an Irish family.
I'll switch now to something more critical for students
which is work opportunity while they're studying and once they finish. So my
first question is when a student lands into an Irish city to further study, do
they get to work part time or possibly the term break or something, so how does it work?
So all students are allowed to work for 20 hours a week you know that
standard. My advise to students is that they should wait for a couple of months
before they get into this part-time work because you need to look at your
schedules, you need to see how much of library work or reference work you need
to put in and then see how many hours free you have to work. But you are
allowed to work and part-time jobs are available. A lot of students might want
to work on campus you know those are also available but
not to the number that one would desire and you have to keep your eyes and ears
open and see you know what is coming up. But definitely in coffee shops and in
shops as assistants, during holiday time definitely there are jobs available and
students are encouraged to work.
So all in all how easy or how challenging it is
for a first time traveler into a new country, new campus, new city to crack a part-time job?
Well I have found that students normally manage to find and as
I mentioned that if you have an Indian society then the the student who has
been holding a job in is passing out, he normally recommends you know that and if
the employer is very happy with him he'll say that okay you know what I can
recommend a student so normally you know the alumnae works and your networks
work and they are able to find jobs.
So talking about the post study work
I know it's critical for the students, once they complete the degree what kind
of opportunity they can look forward to and what support is given by the institutions?
So Ireland is home to more than 1,000 multinationals that have made
Ireland its international headquarters and I must say that the Irish government
has been extremely successful in inviting foreign direct investment into
the country. Now all these people, all these companies need talent you know so
the when the post study work visa was extended to two years after post
graduation, so I will clarify that after under graduation it's one year and it's
two years after PG but when it was extended, it was extended because there's
a genuine need for talent to stay back in Ireland and fulfil the demand that
these companies have. So I find that most students in Ireland would get jobs.
It's a fastest growing economy at the moment in Europe so they do get jobs and
I once again take the example of UCC with just a few months back there was a
report in the Irish Times that UCC had a track record of 100% placement across
all streams you know and then each institution has a career office, a
placement office, a placement cell which will help the students in making
out their CV, in holding mock interviews till the student is absolutely ready and
is ready to face the actual interview, so there is a lot of support
given to students and companies do come on campuses, so we have campus placements as well.
Great and how about the internships because internships I
understand some programs have built in, some students want to do some internship
so do the universities support students find internship, are they paid, how does it work?
So internship is part of the program and
therefore the University definitely helps in providing the students with
this internships and normally you will find that a student is asked to do
either an internship or a research project you know it's what the student
chooses but definitely we have internships and for undergraduate
students it's in the third year and maximum a year but definitely six months is the internship.
So these internships are largely at the undergraduate or a postgraduate level?
And generally at what stage a undergraduate
student would take up an internship?
So normally in the third year so in if we
have the program is for four years so in the third year when you have had a
sufficient amount of knowledge behind you, that's when you're introduced to the
companies and you go in for an internship in the third year.
Considering that master's is a one-year program, what will be the duration of an internship then?
In the master's program, the internship is normally three to four months.
So is it after the program or it is in between the program?
Its in between the program normally around the third semester kind of a thing or
between the first and second if there are only two semesters.
There are students who are kind of interested to have a program enrolled into, which is a
sandwich year program. So does Irish institutions offer something like a
sandwich course, sandwich program which is extended program in a master's degree level?
What we understand in Ireland as a sandwich year is actually the internship
It is, in a way internship or could be that you
pick up another subject which is relevant to your master's program, take
up that bit, built-in that program or that element and continue with the degree further
Yeah I don't think we are that flexible, you know we definitely
have an internship and that is what we refer to so in the undergraduate your
sandwich year would be the third year when in in some cases there are certain
programs in which you actually have an international exposure so you actually
go to another country in Europe and do the third year there and along with an
internship so but the kind of flexibility that you're talking off
about taking up another subject is normally not there.
Considering that students who are travelling for the first time they get to a campus, they
find accomodation with a support of institutions and some other support but
what happens if there's a medical emergency for a student, who they connect with?
So we have a student each campus would have a student cell or a student
support they call it pastoral care, you know so you know when as soon as a
student arrives on campus he would register himself, he will go and meet the
officials in the pastoral care and that's where he first connects and there
would be doctors, the hostels would have you know some kind of medical health and
a medical insurance is something that we insist on, so you know even before you
land on campus, before you leave India you have to have a medical insurance. But
the universities go all out to to support a student in any case of medical
emergency or anything.
In case of a financial emergency at times because students
are travelling for the first time, they're not aware they were could be
some challenge back home, does universities or colleges or body
of Irish government extend any support to such student, may be a temporary support to students?
The universities do, I don't think that the Irish government
as such does but then of course there's always the Indian Embassy you know that
will be supporting its students. But the universities do have an emergency fund
in which through which they help the students in case of a financial crisis
Right one thing which I think most students would be interested to
understand is, when they're pursuing degree or posts or after the degree
completes either the post study work opportunity or after that even, what are
the chances of their finding jobs in their interest area which is like the
degree they pursue and kind of things?
I think it's you know in Ireland at the
moment it's very likely that you will get a job in the area that you are
pursuing that you are studying. So as I was mentioning that you know Ireland is
home to so many industries and so many companies in different sectors that it's
it's really easy for students to get jobs in their, in their sectors and the
programs have been designed to make sure that they are you know like some of the
programs claimed that they have hundred percent employment and it's obviously in
there in that same field and in that same sector so in Ireland at the moment
I would say that students will find jobs in their selected areas.
And have you seen students who are completing degrees in Ireland but find good opportunities
to work outside Ireland before they go back to the home countries?
You know I mean this is this is really interesting because I tell the students always
that the besides the Irish owned companies, I'm repeating myself here
Ireland is home to more than 1000 multinationals and these are
multinationals so we have had our Indian students picked up from campus and sent
straight off to the United States. So you can get a job in Ireland, you could get
it in Europe, you could go to the United States, you could come back to India you
you could be hired in Ireland and then you know transfer back to India, so it's
really the world that you're looking at because these are multinational companies
Great and also I have heard about this concept of Ireland
green card so would you like to share something about it?
So the Ireland green
card has now been renamed, it's called the critical skills work permit and
there are two categories in this so if you have a job which is giving you
60,000 euros as a salary then you are automatically
given a green card or the critical work permit and if your salary is thirty
thousand euros and above then you have to be in an industry which is referred
to there is a list of critical skills which covers most of the areas
that Indian students would be looking at you know so that's not an issue and if
you're within that and you meet the criteria you get the work permit, not an issue at all
I'm asking kind of a similar question which I asked but a twist
to it as you mentioned about thousand plus multinationals in Ireland, what are
the key industries in between these companies or these organizations?
Okay so we have the technology companies, every technology company that you can think off
would have its international headquarters in Ireland and after the
Silicon Valley in the United States, Ireland is the second largest producer
in the world of software products so technology is, it's a big industry there
then we have the financial services sector. I mentioned that 95% of all
aircrafts are leased and financed out of Ireland. The fund industry is becoming
very big in Ireland. Financial services and therefore a lot of companies from
the UK post the brexit have already started moving into Ireland. Then we have
the pharmaceutical industry which is very strong and very big, the medical
devices industry, the dairy industry, the food industry, the the alcohol and
beverage industry. Intel has its largest wafer fabrication plant in Ireland and
something that a lot of people wouldn't know is that Ireland is home to the
maximum number of intellectual property, so most companies holds their
intellectual property in Ireland. The manufacturing could be anywhere else in the world
Ok so I think students really have a very wide choice to you know look
for interesting programs to get into a university and then at the same time
post their degree, they can explore plenty of opportunities to work in Ireland
and after that unlimited revenues.
One thing which
you as an expert would like to advice what would be the right path when
they enroll for a program and the duration of the program to ensure that
they make a good career out of the degree they secure and post that?
Well I think what I would tell the students is that first of all when they are in the
program, the programs are designed to give you the required skills and
knowledge which would be helpful to you in your workplace. So please work hard,
study hard, do a lot of reference work, the faculty in Ireland especially in UCC
are very keen and like it if the student, the students ask questions and are
interacting with them so you know make sure that you understand everything
that's what I would tell a student and the best way to skill yourself for the
professional life is also to meet companies. So the University is helping
you by bringing companies onto campus, so please interact with them, understand
what are the kind of jobs available and how you need to skill yourself for that.
So the more prepared you are the better opportunities.
Finally any one tip for
our students which you think will ensure them their choice of institution when
they are applying to Ireland?
Well once again Ireland is offering you
a plethora of programs for the wide range of industries that are present in
Ireland, so please go through the modules and look at the program more than
anything else and then take a decision as to which university would be the best
suited for you but do go through the modules and study that and then take a decision.
Great and before we close, I have got some rapid-fire kind of
questions which are I would request if you can just give us two or three key
tips to these questions and some quick answers right so my first question is
three USP's of UCC?
Well UCC is very focused on entrepreneurship and research,
these are the two main USP's and the fact that it has a very very good
student faculty interface. If you have an idea even if you're an
undergraduate student, you are incubated, you are mentored and you're encouraged to
start your own company and be an entrepreneur. So that's a very good thing if
you are a person who is a researcher and an innovator then UCC is one of the
leading research universities in Ireland but that's not to say that this facility
is not available in the rest of the country, it is.
Top two or three programs
at undergraduate and postgraduate levels offered by UCC for Indian students?
Well all programs are offered for Indian students and I think in undergraduate
what I'm seeing, there is an increased interest in psychology, business programs,
commerce, B.Com hons is very important, finance is very important and
then law is becoming surprisingly very important. Sciences have always been very
important so sciences are always there, all kinds of sciences
In the postgraduate level I would say that the three key programs would be
computer science, data science and business information and analytics systems.
Three must do's for a student who is going for the going
to Ireland for the first time?
Be prepared with an umbrella, be prepared to
ask questions to your professor, be prepared to be employed as quickly as
possible because this whole thing about a one-year stay back or a two-year stay
back is more a psychological thing. I feel that if you don't get a job within
the first three months, how are you going to support yourself for the one year or
two years? So think of yourself as having only a three month window and make sure
that you're prepared for a job which you will get in Ireland.
Three final steps if
I have offer from a Irish institution, I should be prepared for?
So you must be
prepared to confirm your offer by paying the deposit, make sure that your
documentation for the visa is all complete and apply for your visa on time.
Be prepared to enjoy yourself and have a wonderful time in Ireland.
And final question is, a deadline to remember?
Deadlines to remember is that we start
our admission process in November and you should look at a deadline even
though the website will say that the deadline is May but you give yourself a
deadline of April and make sure that your applications are there in time.
Thank You Meenakshi for coming into our studios today.
Thank you very much Amit
for having me, it's been such a pleasure talking to you, thank you
Friends this was Meenakshi with us, Director, UCC India. We got a
lot of updates from Meenakshi about studying in Ireland, when you can make an
application about post study work and other aspects of living and working in
Ireland. We found this conversation very useful and I expect you will find this
conversation as useful when you look at studying in Ireland. We'll have more
updates to you in times to come so stay tuned to study abroad insight series of IDP
Thank you very much for watching