The Welcoming Isle
The traditional Irish welcome - céad míle fáilte - is known around the world. Translated from the Gaelic to mean “a hundred thousand welcomes,” Irish culture is synonymous with one word around the world: friendly.
To international students who are bravely travelling sometimes thousands of miles to pursue their education, being sure of a welcome when they arrive is far more than just a nice extra. Stepping into a new country, culture and even language takes courage. You can be sure that you will make a few mistakes along the way. A friendly welcome as you find your way can make all the difference.
In fact, the largest global survey of international student choice of study destination found “the degree to which a place feels welcoming is one of the most important factors influencing prospective students’ choice of a university town or city, with 31% citing it as the most important consideration. Being a welcoming place is ranked above quality of teaching, which 25% choose as their most important consideration.”
Ireland is determined to do just this, and recently announced the creation of a new nationwide student wellbeing group. Chaired by the Union of Students in Ireland, the group will also consider practical challenges such as how student mental health and engagement can be better supported at Irish universities.
The Irish’s government’s focus on student welfare has been warmly welcomed by leading international pathway provider Study Group, an organisation that partners with 39 universities worldwide, including University College Dublin (UCD). Founded in 1854 by one of the most influential figures in the history of universities - John Henry Newman - UCD is today one of Ireland's largest and most prestigious universities, with five Nobel laureates to its name. Its graduates have included the writer James Joyce and many of Ireland’s Presidents and leaders.
According to Dr Mark Cunnington, Chief Operating Officer, UK and Europe, at Study Group:
“The Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly had a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of both international and domestic students so we particularly welcome the Irish government’s drive to enhance student wellbeing. By forming a group dedicated to researching, Irish universities are showing their deep commitment to identifying and implementing new ways to improve higher education welfare provision during and post-pandemic.
“Supporting student mental health is fundamental to empower learners to achieve their academic potential and progress to the university programme of their choice, upon successful completion of their pathway course. There has never been a more crucial time to focus on that, and we are delighted that our Study Group students in Ireland benefit from this approach.”
Teaching and support staff, as well as students, agree that this is important. As Study Group’s Head of Professional Services, Chantal Ryan, at the University College Dublin International Study Centre (ISC) comments:
“At the University College Dublin ISC, we are very aware that a student’s mental and emotional wellbeing has a major impact of their academic outcomes. For this reason, we have put in place a comprehensive programme of online support through tutorials (group and one-to-one), a wellbeing and mindfulness course, drop-in clinics, and a designated welfare contact service, which enables students to seek advice for any concerns they may have with us directly via email.
“Lockdown has undoubtably been a challenge. Virtual group and one-to-one tutorials are even more important, as is continually reiterating the message that we are here to support students and that they can come to the online drop-in clinics or make a private video appointment with a member of the welfare team. Our student mental health virtual support provision we have in place lets the students know that they are not alone in how they are feeling and that they are seen and actively supported can make all the difference.”
A friendly welcome is more than a smile and a kind word. It takes skill, understanding and care when times are difficult. According to Daniil Hudov, an international student studying at the University College Dublin ISC:
“The University College Dublin ISC treats students with the upmost care. When I needed some support, I was able to have an online one-to-one session with a trained mental health professional, which helped me a lot.”
This kind of welcome is the good practice that the Irish government wants to support and promote across all its universities and colleges. For international students, that is important. It is one more of many good reasons to choose Ireland and to make themselves at home.
About Study Group:
Study Group’s mission is to be the leading provider of international education and its vision is to build a better world through education.
Study Group partners with 39 universities worldwide, to deliver academic pathway programmes (e.g., Foundation Year, International Year 1/Diploma and Pre-Masters courses), which broaden access to high-quality, global Higher Education opportunities for thousands of international students every year, across all subject areas.
Over the past 25 years, we have established a market-leading position in the international education sector, with the highest number of partners within the global top 200 university ranking located in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the US. Our partners include leading ‘Russell Group’ UK universities and ‘Group of Eight’ Australian Higher Education Institutions.
In February 2020, Study Group acquired Insendi to enhance the organisation’s education technology expertise and deliver transformative experiential, intuitive and accessible online learning experiences for students with the best, most pedagogically powerful digital tools available. In December 2020, Study Group was named Pathway Company of the Year at the Global Education Investor Awards: studygroup.com
Insendi is an innovation-led Edtech company, which helps institutions implement new models of high-impact, transformational online and blended education.
Insendi’s central offering is a learning experience platform designed to enable universities to deliver premium online and blended courses. It offers a broad range of pedagogical tools and functionalities which enable educators to craft engaging and effective ‘human centred’ learning experiences via an intuitive, uncluttered interface: insendi.com