The Irish Council for International Students (ICOS) celebrated the significance of international students in Ireland and the challenges faced by them amid the Covid-19 pandemic on International Students’ Day, held annually on November 17.
Chaired by the Executive Director of ICOS Laura Harmon, a webinar was hosted to not just discuss the challenges but also to ensure that international students in Ireland are offered the best experience when they are in the country.
She said that international students are the “ambassadors” for the country when they leave.
Earlier that week, ICOS had publicly denounced the move by the government of Ireland to exclude international students from the non-EEA (European Economic Area) countries from a nation-wide tuition fee rebate scheme of €250. It further called it a “deeply unfair” decision.
One-time payments like these are focused on making amends over a move to shift more towards online learning in 2020. In response to this, the ICOS pointed out that non-EEA students will not be able to apply for the same, a step that Harmon called “highly disappointing”.
She went on to say that international students including the non-EEA students who work part-time in Ireland should be eligible for equal relief in times of Covid, regardless of which country they are from.
They should, in fact, be treated the same as other international students, as they have been as affected by the pandemic as their peers.
Loma Fitzpatrick, President of Union of Students in Ireland, said that the pandemic has created roadblocks and that Irish universities are trying their best to do away with them.
She said that the reputation of Ireland is at risk in terms of the overall student experience, with the “extravagant cost” of education in the country already posing a threat to attracting foreign students in the future.
It is, however, important to recognise the way Irish institutions have adapted to this very new situation and carried out everything with only limited resources, said Harmon.