Minister O’Sullivan concludes successful trade mission to China

Increased focus on Chinese education market planned over the next 24 months

31 October 2014

Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD, will today return to Ireland, having concluded a seven day trade mission to China. Minister O’Sullivan was accompanied by senior staff from Enterprise Ireland, as well as representatives of 12 higher education institutions, each of which are actively involved in China.

During the course of her visit, Minister O’Sullivan secured agreement that Ireland will be recognised as the ‘country of honour’ at the Chinese Education Expo in October 2016 - an opportunity to increase massively the awareness of Irish higher education institutions amongst the Chinese public.

Minister O’Sullivan has confirmed that she will convene a meeting with the heads of all Irish universities and institutes of technology over the coming weeks, to agree a plan to maximise the benefit to Ireland from this opportunity, and to increase the number of Chinese students travelling to Ireland. This will require sustained efforts in China with the full support of Government and our representatives on the ground.

She intends to travel to China again in late 2015 to accept the baton of ‘country of honour’ for 2016, and to continue her work promoting Ireland as a destination for Chinese students.

Separately, Minister O’Sullivan also secured agreement that two high-level Chinese delegations will visit Ireland during 2015. 

In September 2015, a high-level delegation from Chinese universities will travel to Ireland.  This will provide an opportunity to deepen some of the relationships which already exist between Irish and Chinese higher education institutions, and provide other Chinese universities with their first exposure to the Irish education system. 

A high-level joint working group between the Department of Education and Skills, and the Chinese Ministry for Education will meet in Dublin during 2015. This group has previously met twice –in Dublin in 2010 and in Beijing in 2013.

Speaking upon her departure from China, Minister O’Sullivan said “the purpose of this trade mission was to make sure Chinese students and their parents are aware of the high-quality Irish higher education system, and to deepen some of the relationships which have been developed between Irish and Chinese institutions. 

“During this trip, 12 separate memorandums of understanding between institutions were signed. These events represented the culmination of major efforts by Irish universities and institutes of technology to build relationships with some of the top-ranking Chinese universities.

“The Chinese Minister for Education confirmed his support for increasing the number of Chinese students studying in Irish institutions. Currently, we have approximately 5,000 Chinese students each year coming to study in Ireland, or studying in Irish-run programmes in China.  We now have an opportunity to dramatically increase that number - improving the financial standing of our third-level institutions, and also bringing considerable investment to towns and cities across Ireland. 

“Over the next 18 months, I intend to maximise the return to Ireland from that opportunity.  Whether welcoming delegations from China, bringing the heads of Irish institutions together along with Enterprise Ireland to ensure we have a coordinated approach, or returning to China again next year, I am confident that we can deliver tangible results from Chinese-Irish relationships, that will help to support our social and economic recovery.”