Up to 1,000 Canadian students will be coming to Ireland from September 2012 to study in Irish Institutes, the results of an agreement signed between Institutes of Technology Ireland (IOTI) and Colleges Ontario.
The agreement, which was signed yesterday in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, by Gerry Murray, chief executive of IOTI and Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario, should be of benefit to the Irish economy, bringing in about €7,000 per student per annum, through about accommodation and living expenses.
Fee income to the institutes will also average about €7,000 per student per annum, generating a potential €7m in annual income for the sector.
Colleges Ontario represents 24 third-level colleges which educate undergraduate students up to the equivalent of Level 7 on the Irish National Framework of Qualifications.
The agreement with the Irish institutes will allow these students to progress to honours degrees at Level 8 and beyond in Ireland.
Graduates of two-year college programmes in Ontario can secure an honours degree with two further years of study in Ireland. In some academic disciplines, graduates of three-year programmes will be able to secure an honours degree with one further year of study.
What Canadian students will study in Ireland
The first wave of Canadian students coming to Ireland will study business, hospitality, electronics engineering, internet applications and web development. Further programme areas will be added over the coming months.
In the opposite direction, Irish students will be able to travel to the Ontario colleges for undergraduate and post-graduate studies.
Both Murray and Franklin hailed the agreement as precedent-setting in Canada and Ireland.
“This agreement is unique because it is ‘system to system’, not just an agreement between individual institutions," Murray said.
"It is a brilliant opportunity for Irish and Canadian students to substantially broaden their education experience. As well as covering undergraduate education, it also makes provision for partnerships in innovation and applied research, including potential for joint research. There is considerable interest in Canada in the Irish approach to applied research and business incubation in the Institutes of Technology.”
Franklin said the agreement offers tremendous mobility and flexibility to Colleges Ontario students.
"Under the agreement, students will receive financial support to study abroad. For example, Ontario students going to Ireland would see their tuition fees reduced by more than 15pc," Franklin said.