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What makes Ireland a study abroad favourite for Americans?

Trinity College was founded in 1592 as the "mother" of a new university and is located in Dublin's College Green. Source: Shutterstock

For many years, Americans planning to study abroad have consistently looked towards Ireland.

In 2016/17, the European country attracted nearly 12,000 US students, now standing as the seventh-most popular global destination for students from the country.

Americans form the highest percentage of Ireland’s 163,300 international students across Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) and English language schools.

But what draws Americans to The Emerald Isle?

Understanding US study abroad in Ireland, a new report from Southern Cross Consulting, offers a comprehensive exploration of the sector with comprehensive insight.

These are the top three answers to the question “Why did you choose to study abroad in Ireland?” from US student respondents (all of whom were on one semester programmes):

1. Easy speaking

Irish may have been the predominant language in Ireland for most of its recorded history, but English is now the most widely spoken language in the country. Source: Shutterstock

The Constitution for the Republic of Ireland states Irish is the national and first official language. English, however, has been the prominant first language since the late 18th century and also holds official status in Irish law. Both student respondents and Irish HEI staff ranked this as the most attractive quality for Americans who choose Ireland as their study abroad destination.

2. Easy to travel

Ireland is a short flight or train ride from many European countries and survey findings show that the range of travel opportunities to mainland Europe is attractive to US students.

This has a positive economic impact on Ireland. The report found that travelling expenses, both abroad and within Ireland, contributed around €4,139,289 and €2,334,261 respectively to the Irish economy in one year. Visitors to students (spend, including accommodation) contributed an additional €11,983,82.

3. Irish culture

Key motivations for any student who chooses to cross national borders in the name of education include personal development and an interest in foreign culture. This applies to the American international student in Ireland, with “Irish Culture” ranking as the third-most popular reason for studying in the region.

St Patrick’s Day is always a fun day out! Source: Shutterstock

“Ireland’s strong tradition within the arts, culture and history is the third element which completes the appeal for the study abroad student,” the report notes.

It adds that a meta-analysis of studies in the US found that such study abroad experiences positively impact student engagement, confidence and determination – all of which positively influence learning outcomes.

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