Nationalities of international undergraduate students in Ireland’s ‘Big 3’ Universities revealed for academic year 17/18

University College Dublin (UCD) has 7,869 international undergraduate students, making up 27 percent of total undergraduate student numbers in that college for the academic year 2017/2018.

The college had another 21,257 Irish undergraduate students in that time.

Meanwhile, Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has 3,192 international undergraduate students while National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) has 2,467.

The figures were obtained via the Freedom of Information Act from the three universities.

According to the figures, the United States is the country with the most students pursuing undergraduate education in these three universities. TCD has 687 US national students; while UCD has 1,753 and NUIG has 812.

Students from Britain form the highest numbers from Europe attending Ireland’s top universities. The numbers are 506 in TCD; 579 in UCD; and 172 in NUIG. Canadian, French and German students are also attracted by these universities.

In Asia, countries like China, Malaysia consistently have the most students coming to Ireland for a university education. Notably however, Singapore, a relatively small country, has 226 Singaporean undergraduate students at TCD, the most amount of Asian students in Ireland’s premier university.

From the African region, Nigeria is the country with the most students coming to Ireland with TCD (33), UCD ( 64), NUIG (73). Its numbers are significantly higher than other African countries. On the other hand, Australia is the main country representing the Oceania region, with 40 at TCD; 77 at UCD; 35 at NUIG.

The international undergraduate students that come from South America and Africa and Oceania make up the minority of international students.

The tables below show the top ten nationalities of international undergraduate students studying at each of the universities for the academic year 17/18.

TheCity has compiled the data received, and categorised the countries into their respective geographic regions.

For the convenience of categorisation, we labelled countries that are located in the Caucasian states into the classification of ‘Asia’. The geographic location of Russia meanwhile has been much debated whether it is in Europe or Asia. We decided to categorise Russia to Asia, based on its majority landmass being located there.

The data compiled shows that TCD has the most international undergraduate students coming from Europe (1,583), followed by North America (839) and Asia (645).  

UCD, with the highest number of total international undergraduate students, has the most students coming from Europe (2,839), closely followed by Asia (2,418) and North America ( 2075). There are 139 ‘unknown’ students which were not categorised.

NUIG has the most students coming from North America (975). European (792) and Asian (488) nations are the other main contributors for international undergraduate students in the college.

TCD said: “We benefit from our international collaborations with universities around the world in developing both research links and opportunities for our students to study abroad during their programmes.”

On the recruitment of students, NUIG said: “NUI Galway has focused its international recruitment efforts on the US, India, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and South East Asia. We plan to target West Africa and South America as part of our next recruitment drive.

“International students of which there are 3,000 in NUI Galway represents a significant economic contribution to Galway City and its hinterland. This cohort also adds diversity to the city.”

UCD has been contacted for comment, but had yet to respond at the time of publication.

The universities examined here are the highest ranked universities in Ireland, according to the QS World Rankings 2019.

According to the World Rankings, TCD is currently 104th in the world. UCD is 193rd place while NUIG is 260th place.

The latest data from the Higher Education Authority (HEA), shows that of the overall international students population in 2017/2018, 41 percent comes from Asia; 29 percent from North America; 20 percent from the EU; and 10 percent from the rest of the world.

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